Go Home James Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2
Animal Welfare
Civil Society
Philanthropic Literature
by Libby Phillips Meggs
 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.
Reading Level: Ages 4-8

This book tells the true story of James, a cat that was lost for a long time. People thought he had a home because he was wearing a collar but they didn’t know that the collar was put on when he was still growing and now it was so tight he had trouble swallowing. He braved many seasons becoming hungrier as his hunting skills declined. After falling victim to a dog attack, he finally finds a forever home with the love and care he was longing for and deserves.

Before Reading

ASK: What does home mean to you? Does “home” mean just a house or apartment, or is it more than that?

SHOW: Look at the picture of the cat on the first page of the book. How does he look? How do you think he feels?

CONNECT: Have you ever seen a pet who you thought was lost or didn’t have a home? Talk about what to do if we see a stray animal. We should never try to do anything ourselves, but we should tell an adult. Ask the adult to call a local shelter for information about how to help the animal.

During Reading

ASK: What dose it mean for an animal to be a “stray.” What problems do stray animals face?

SHOW: Look at the pictures that show James looking longingly into the house, walking alone in the woods, running in the rain, and facing the dog.

CONNECT: How does having a home protect animals. What are the duties and responsibilities of people who provide “homes” for animals?

After Reading

ASK: How did James life change from the beginning to the end of this book?

SHOW: Look at the pictures of James playing with his toy and resting by the fire.

CONNECT: Animals come to rely on humans to meet their needs and keep them safe. Taking an animal into your family brings many responsibilities but also many joys. Talk about the line of text which states “I have a feeling we are the lucky ones.” How is that true for all pet owners?


  1. Raise money for homeless pets. Animal shelters rely on donations from the public to do the lifesaving work they do. 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 shelter.  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. Collect supplies for animal shelters. Call or visit the website of your local shelter. If you aren’t familiar with your local shelter, you can find one on ASPCA's Find a Shelter webpage to find out what items are on their wish list. Hold a wish list drive for these items.

    Examples of supplies often needed are cleaning and office supplies, pet food, pet toys, and first aid supplies. First, set a goal for how many items your family will collect. Then put up posters in your community school, library, pool, or place of worship listing needed items (be sure to get permission first). List some information about where you are donating, the types of items needed, and the drop-off location. Then sit back and wait for the donations to pour in. At the end of your drive, be sure to let people know how successful your campaign was.
  3. Create flyers that explain the dangers to stray animals and encourage people to make sure their cats, dogs and other pets are safe at home rather than roaming the streets. Ask if you can place copies in veterinary offices, supermarkets, pet supply stores, etc. Some examples of dangers include cars, bad weather and other animals.
  4. Draw a picture of or write or tell a story about a pet that found a loving home. Don’t forget to include what the pet’s life was like before and after finding a home.