Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Club Discussions: Edward Tulane

Book Club discussion groups are a great way to get kids reading and thinking deeply about literature. Book Clubs are one of my favorite things that I do in my classroom, so I thought I would start a series featuring some of my go-to books for great Book Clubs. I can also put together some posts about how I organize and launch Book Clubs for lasting and productive conversations. Up first is one of my all-time favorites...

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006) by Kate DiCamillo with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline. This book breaks my heart and remakes it every time I read it. I love sharing this book with children, and my students have the most incredible and deep conversations around this story. Last year we read Edward Tulane as whole class as part of The Global Read Aloud, and it was so fun to be able to watch their faces as we experienced this story together. [Aside: how did this book not win a Newbery?]


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is the story of a pompous china rabbit, named Edward Tulane, whose perfect world is upended when he leaves on a trip with his owner, a girl named Abilene. As he travels around, he meets many different people and broadens his perspective on the world and his own situation in it. He experiences love and loss and teaches children how to feel.

Reading Level: 4.5
Guided Reading Level: Q
Lexile: 700L

Big Ideas and Discussion Topics

  • Character. Edward Tulane is a great book to talk about the change or evolution of the main character. Kids can easily compare and contrast how Edward changes throughout the book and how he is impacted by each person that he meets.
  • Big Issues. The book also deals very gently and sincerely with loss, including separation and death.
  • Figurative and descriptive language. The book is full of incredible and lyrical language. You can also have great discussion around the epigraph at the beginning of the book.

Suggested Chapter Breakdowns

I usually use four to six sections for Book Club discussions with my students. They meet twice a week (often Tuesdays and Thursdays), which gives us two or three weeks to finish any given round. When I first started I had many more Book Club divisions, but I found that kids had a hard time sustaining interest in a book when it became incredibly drawn out.

  1. Chapters 1-4 (pages 1-34)
  2. Chapters 5-9 (pages 35-73)
  3. Chapters 10-14 (pages 75-111)
  4. Chapters 15-19 (pages 113-151)
  5. Chapters 20-24 (pages 153-188)
  6. Chapters 25-coda (pages 185-208)
These chapter divisions match those used by the Global Read Aloud, after I suggested an amendment to their original breakdowns. [Please check page numbers against your own editions, as publishers sometimes change the size or shape of the book, which alters the page numbers.]

How have you used Edward Tulane with your students?

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