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Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.

7th-8th Informational Text
An Overview of the Great Depression
Jessica McBirney 2017
Passage Summary: In the informational text “The Great Depression,” Jessica McBirney discusses the various causes and effects of the Great Depression, as well as how America’s economy eventually recovered.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text before reading the novel as historical background on how the Great Depression affected the economy of the U.S. Pair Bud, Not Buddy with “An Overview of The Great Depression” and ask students to consider the economic hardships of the 1930s. As students begin reading chapter one, ask them to determine how the struggles that Bud faces stem from the effects of the Great Depression.
7th-8th Poem 880L
Mother to Son
Langston Hughes 1922
Passage Summary: In this free-verse poem by Harlem Renaissance writer and poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967), a mother utilizes metaphor to communicate the struggles she's faced to her son.
When and How to Pair: After students have read chapter five, have them read “Mother to Son,” and ask them to compare and contrast the advice given by Bud’s mother and the speaker of the poem to their respective sons. How is the motherly advice similar? How does the advice differ? How do the metaphors used in both (the stairs/doors and the light/dark) compare?
7th-8th News 900L
At The Head of Her Class, and Homeless
NPR Staff 2014
Passage Summary: In June 2014, NPR published this story about Rashema Melson. At the time, Melson was a homeless high school senior at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. She is now a student at Georgetown University.
When and How to Pair: After reading chapter seven, have students read “At the Head of her Class and Homeless” and compare Rashema Melson and Bud Caldwell’s character traits. What helps Rashema and Bud persist through tough times? How are Rashema and Bud more than simply “homeless”?
7th-8th Poem 1050L
Halsted Street Car
Carl Sandburg 1916
Passage Summary: Carl Sandburg's poem "Halsted Street Car" (1916) is a critique of working conditions in Chicago. In it, Sandburg paints a powerful picture of the weary faces of the working class.
When and How to Pair: Introduce “Halsted Street Car” by Carl Sandburg after reading chapter eight, and have students note how Christopher Paul Curtis and Carl Sandburg reveal the community-wide destitution noted in each text. What words does each author use to illustrate the struggles of society? Which author takes a more positive tone toward the difficulties that people face as a community? What different message does each text reveal about community struggles?
7th-8th Poem
At A Window
Carl Sandburg 1914
Passage Summary: In this poem, a desperate speaker begs the gods to deliver someone to love.
When and How to Pair: After reading chapter eight, have students read “At a Window” by Carl Sandburg and ask students to identify what both the speaker of the poem and Bud are looking for to help them deal with adversity. What are the differences in what Bud and the speaker of the poem hope for?
5th-6th Informational Text 1020L
Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions
Jessica McBirney 2016
Passage Summary: This article provides a brief history of labor unions, including common tactics and important advances in workers’ rights.
When and How to Pair: Before reading chapter 12, read “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” and have students discuss why labor unions exist and what they do. How does the inclusion of references to labor unions develop this novel as a work of historical fiction?
7th-8th Informational Text 1070L
Emmett Till
Jessica McBirney 2016
Passage Summary: This informational text explains how the murder of Emmett Till helped spark the Civil Rights Movement.
When and How to Pair: After reading chapter 12, introduce “Emmett Till” and have students discuss whether or not they think Lefty was correct to warn Bud about being a “young Negro boy” alone on the road. What kind of adversity might Bud have faced if he had encountered someone other than Lefty? Ask students to use evidence from both texts to support their answers.
7th-8th Poem
Knock Knock
Daniel Beaty 2013
Passage Summary: In Daniel Beaty’s poem “Knock Knock,” the speaker describes his relationship with his father and how he is impacted by his eventual absence.
When and How to Pair: After reading chapter 13, introduce “Knock Knock” and ask students to compare and contrast Bud and the speaker of the poem’s perspective on the role of their parents in their lives. How has the lack or a mother or father figure influenced the character/speaker’s identity?
7th-8th Psychology 830L
The Role Reverser: Growing Up Too Soon
Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. 2014
Passage Summary: In this article, Dr. Gregory L. Jantz tells the story of a boy named Adam and the pressures he had to confront following the divorce of his parents. In short, he was forced to grow up too soon.
When and How to Pair: Introduce “The Role Reverser: Growing Up Too Soon” after reading chapter 14 and ask students determine the traumatic events that occurred in Bud’s life which caused him to grow up too soon. What insights into Bud’s actions does the article offer?
7th-8th Speech 900L
Steve Jobs' Stanford University Commencement Speech
Steve Jobs 2005
Passage Summary: In his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, the late Steve Jobs discusses the challenges that ultimately shaped him into a successful entrepreneur.
When and How to Pair: After finishing the novel, have students compare and contrast the kinds of adversity that Jobs and Bud faced in their lives. Which of Jobs’ rules for facing life would Bud agree with, and why? Which of Bud’s rules for life might Jobs agree with and why?
7th-8th Poem
If
Rudyard Kipling 1910
Passage Summary: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1939) was an English short story writer, poet, and novelist — as well as a contemporary of Robert Louis Stevenson. He is best known for his novel The Jungle Book. Kipling wrote in Victorian England, and “If” (published in 1910) represents some of the ideal qualities of a “proper Englishman” during that time. Utilizing a paternal tone, the narrator sets out a list of rules by which his son should live.
When and How to Pair: After finishing the novel, have students compare and contrast the rules both Bud and the poem outline for being an adult/a man. Which rules in the poem are similar to the rules Bud created for himself? What led Bud to create his rules? In the context of both texts, what does it mean to be grown up?