Lois Lowry: Grapples with 1918 Pandemic Shutdown

INTERMEDIATE & MIDDLE SCHOOL ACTIVITY

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO? 

Social justice learning and actions that can be taken close at hand during these uncertain times

Lois Lowry has written more than 40 books for young people, some quite serious like Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 1990 Honor Title for Older Readers, Number the Stars, and the dystopian classic novel, The Giver. Others, like the Anastaia series and The Willoughbys, are beloved and lighthearted.  Lois knows her young readers and respects their love of story as well as their ablity and need to grapple with dark topics. Read this recent interview with Lois and learn more about her book Like the Willow Tree and it’s connection with our uncertain times.

TEN YEARS AGO, LOIS LOWRY WROTE A BOOK DEPICTING PORTLAND IN A PANDEMIC. NOW, SHE’S REWRITING THE INTRO.

 

‘Like the Willow Tree’ tells the story of a girl whose family died during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

LINK TO LIKE THE WILLOW TREE STUDY GUIDE

   

What would you like to ask Lois Lowry? This 10-year-old got a chance. Read her interview…

LOIS LOWRY IN CONVERSATION WITH A 10-YEAR-OLD REPORTER ABOUT HER NEW BOOK

 

Also, you might want to check out this dramatic moment in the lives of Ellen and Annemarie, 10-year-olds in Denmark during World War 11…

EXCERPT – NUMBER_THE_STARS_BY LOIS LOWRY

 

 

NOW LET’S GET TO NEXT STEPS!

Guiding questions for your reading, writing, thinking and acting:

  • (Like a Willow Tree) begins Oct. 4, 1918, as Lydia is turning 11. She is upset she cannot celebrate her birthday and thinks the mayor is a fool for shuttering the city and ruining her celebration. “But now I am desolate. The Portland Board of Health has issued an order suddenly that no gatherings are to be held at theaters or motion picture houses or dance halls. None at all! And schools are to be closed as well,” she writes in her diary. “All because of a sickness that has arrived in Maine. It is called Spanish influenza. I do not know a single person who suffers from it and I think it is all quite silly and it has completely ruined my birthday.” -from Portland Press Herald article  Write your own diary entry about your impressions as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact your life. What did you think and feel at first? What are you thinking and feeling now? You are welcome to share your thoughts in our comment section (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo. 

 

  • Lisa Sandell, editorial director for Scholastic Press, said Lowry’s book (about the 1918 pandemic) captures a child’s sense of fear and loss, as well as hope and optimism. -from Portland Press Herald article  Explore both sides of this equation for yourself and others. Create a two column chart with ‘stay at home’ fears and losses on one side and hope and optimism on the other. Start with listing three or more specific examples in your own experience under each heading. Be sure to have an equal or greater number of examples on the hope side! Then choose a friend or family member and create a similar chart for them. Record what you know of their fears and losses and then write an equal number or more statements of hope and optimism for them. Perhaps you will do this exercise for several friends or family members? Now, one more important step! Decide what helpful thing you can say and do for the person or people you for whom made lists and go for it! Your words and actions will be invaluable to them!  Share what you learned from this exercise and how you were able to help a friend or family member in our comment section below  (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo.

We look forward to hearing from you! 

More WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? WHAT CAN YOU DO? ACTIVITIES FOR INTERMEDIATE AND MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AT HOME

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