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Becoming Naomi Leon

Last updated Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Author: Pam Mu?oz Ryan
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0439269695
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2006

Synopsis: From the award-winning author of Esperanza Rising comes a riveting novel about family and identity, drawn from the warmth, wisdom, and love of Ryan's own Mexican and Oklahoman heritages.

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book, but the text is not dense and it should read quickly. Begin at chapter one and try to read through chapter 6.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Discuss the idea of collective nouns. A collective noun is one that refers to a group, e.g., team, family, a school of fish. What are some other examples of collective nouns you can think of? In this book, every chapter title is a very creative collective noun. Read some of the titles and discuss what they might mean, for example, a memory of elephants, or a charm of hummingbirds, or a burden of mules.
•  This story takes place in San Diego and in Oaxaca [pronounced wah-hah-kah], Mexico. How many of you have been to San Diego? Find it on the map. Has anyone been to Oaxaca? Oaxaca is both a state and a city. Find the state on the map; then find the city.
•  This is a story about a girl and her brother who are being raised by their great-grandmother. Is your great-grandmother alive? How old is she? Do you know her?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you learn about Naomi?s life in the first chapter? Where does she live? What do they do?
•  Gram talks about a ?self-prophecy,? that when ?you thought positive you could make things happen.? (p. 6) Does Naomi believe in self-prophecies? Do you think the idea of a self-prophecy will be important in this story? Do you believe in them?
•  What is Naomi?s special talent? Do you have a talent for something?
•  What kind of person is Naomi?s mother? What happens when she shows up?
•  What do we learn about Naomi?s father?
•  Gram also likes to say that the good and the bad of a situation are sometimes the same. Can you think of examples where this is true? (pp. 29-30)

Craft ideas:
•  Draw pictures to illustrate some of the chapter titles. What does a ?paddling of ducks? or a ?shiver of sharks? look like?
•  Use small bars of Ivory soap, plastic picnic knives and wooden sticks to do soap sculptures like Naomi does in the book. Instructions and supplies will be provided.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!