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Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Last updated Saturday, August 29, 2020

Author: Jason Reynolds
Illustrator: Alexander Nabaum
Date of Publication: 2019
ISBN: 148143828X
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2020

Synopsis: This story conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.

Note to readers:
•  Look Both Ways is a collection of 10 loosely connected short stories. There are different characters in each story with the common themes of friendship, resilience, and making connections. This curriculum guide is based on reading the 1st chapter, "Water Booger Bears."

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  All of the stories in this book are about middle-schoolers and their experiences after school as they walk home through their community. Before a world with Covid, what are some of the things that you enjoyed doing afterschool?


•  corridor (n) a narrow hallway
•  particles (n) tiny portions of something (for example rock or dirt)
•  hypothesis (n) a guess that is based on fact f
•  ragmented (adj) broken up into small pieces
•  harmonize (v) using notes and chords together to accompany the melody
•  sickle cell anemia: an inherited disorder in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Jasmine says that TJ is her "best friend who's a boy." Why do you think she feels she needs to state that he is a boy?
•  The author describes TJ's and Jasmine's voices very differently What metaphor does the author use to describe TJ's voice? What ideas does he give to show how his voice sounds? In contrast, what analogy does he use to describe how Jasmine uses her voice?
•  What do you think it means when the author says that Jasmine's parents were "together and apart"?
•  Compare Jasmine and TJ. How do their similarities and differences make them best friends?
•  TJ talks about his "old" and "new" mothers. Why do you think he calls them this? How does TJ feel about his "old mother"? What kind of relationship does he have with his "new mother"?

Craft ideas:
•  Friendship Flags: What do TJ and Jasmine leave in each other's lockers as "friendship flags"? (empty snack i.e.Doritos and Cheetos bags). Here are some other creative ways you can use your empty bags
•  Origami triangle or Ninja star
•  Duct Tape Wallet
•  Gift Card Holder
•  Doritos Pencil Bag
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  One of the stories is about 2 friends who made up a unique handshake using sign language. Can we create our own secret handshake? Here is a video of 5 cool handshakes to inspire you
•  If you want to learn a handshake that uses ASL to say "Make the world more awesome!", here a short tutorial.

*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!