Brave Norman Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
by Andrew Clements - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of generosity, community, and service to others. 
 Spanish Version Attached.

This book tells the true story of Norman, a disabled dog that is slowly going blind. Though Norman can no longer see, his loving family still values him. The other family dog, Lucy, helps Norman get around and stay safe. Norman loves to run with Lucy and his family on the beach. One day at the beach, a young girl is stranded in the water. Despite his disability, Norman swims out to the girl and rescues her. This story teaches children important lessons about the power of overcoming obstacles and of heroism. If Norman can overcome his obstacles, why can’t we all?

Before Reading

ASK: Do you know anyone who is blind? Or have you seen a blind person?

SHOW: Look at the picture of the vet examining Norman’s eyes. When a person or an animal can’t see anymore, we say they are blind.

CONNECT: How do you think it would be difficult to be a blind person or animal? What could you or couldn’t you do? With what kinds of things would you need help? Blind people sometimes get around by using a cane, or sometimes they use a “leader” dog to help them cross streets, go places, and do things at home. Often they become so good at remembering where things are in their own homes, they get around with little trouble.

During Reading

ASK: What problems does Norman have because of his blindness? How does Lucy help Norman?

SHOW: Look at the picture of Norman and Lucy walking together. Norman and Lucy are companions. This means they are helpful friends.

CONNECT: Blind people can still get around. Sometimes they use a cane or sometimes they use a “leader” dog to help them cross streets, go places, and do things at home. This dog is called an animal companion. It is the person’s helpful friend. The person helps the dog by giving it a safe home and lots of love. Lucy is Norman’s animal companion.

After Reading

ASK: How was Norman brave?

SHOW: Look at the pictures of Norman rescuing the girl.

CONNECT: Dogs act bravely every day. Many dogs work to rescue people. Some dogs find people who are lost. Other dogs help the police catch people who break the law. Some dogs warn their owners about things like earthquakes or fires. Dogs can be heroes just like people. Have you ever seen an animal helper? [Hint: These dogs often wear a colored vest when they are working.] What was this animal doing?


  1. Raise money for pets with disabilities. Often, owners of pets who need serious surgery or aids to help them live with a disability don’t have the money to make those things possible. You can help raise money for these pets by having a pet products sale. Create homemade items to sell. Then set up a stand in your driveway, at a local dog park, or in an animal shelter (make sure you get permission first). Donate the proceeds of your sale to an animal hospital or a companion animal organization.

    Some ideas for homemade pet products are:
    • Bake homemade dog treats
    • Create dog or cat toys
    • Sew blankets or dog beds
    • Cut fabric into triangles to make dog bandanas
    • Decorate bowls using sponges and paint to serve as pet dishes
    • Embellish store-bought collars with beads, puffy paint, and other craft supplies
  2. Do you have a dog who is a hero? You can volunteer your dog for pet therapy. Therapy dogs visit hospitals and nursing homes to help make the people living there feel better. Petting animals and having them respond positively to you can make lonely people happy, upset people calm, and sick people hopeful. Use the Internet to find a pet therapy program in your community. They will help you decide if your pet has the right personality to be a therapy pet, give you tips for getting your pet ready, and help you find the right location. For more information on how to get involved in animal therapy, go to
  3. Draw a picture of or write or tell a story about a pet that is a hero. Don’t forget to include what the pet looks like, where it lives, and who or what it helps.