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Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog

Last updated Friday, April 5, 2013

Author: Garth Stein
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 0062015745
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2013

Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking?
Meet one funny dog—Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: most dogs love to chase cars, but Enzo longs to race them. He learns about racing and the world around him by watching TV and by listening to the words of his best friend, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, and his daughter, Zoë, his constant companion. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn't simply about going fast. And, applying the rules of racing to his world, Enzo takes on his family's challenges and emerges a hero. In the end, Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with his daughter by his side. For theirs is an extraordinary friendship—one that reminds us all to celebrate the triumph of the human (and canine) spirit.

Note to readers:
•  You may want to skip chapters & try to get to chapter 11 through page 54 (the part about the stuffed toy zebra is sad but very funny). It is your choice whether you want to skip chapters or not-- the students will help guide you!

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever wondered what your dog or other pet is thinking? If your pet could speak, what do you think he or she would say?

•  Dismay- distress or alarm caused by something unexpected
•  Cataracts- a clouding of the lens of the eye
•  Crouch- to stoop or bend down
•  Tussling- struggling, fighting, scuffling
•  Admonish- to express disapproval
•  Vital- very important

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How does Enzo feel about getting older?
•  What is Enzo's Master Plan?
•  How do Enzo and Denny meet?
•  Why do race car drivers record their races, according to Denny?
•  How does Enzo feel about Eve?
•  What does Enzo realize in the hospital?
•  What does Enzo discover about Eve? How does it make him feel?

Craft ideas:
•  Design and draw your very own race car
•  Complete the provided vocabulary word search

*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!