Look Both Ways Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Keywords: 
Celebrating Differences
Community
Interdependence
Neighborhood
by Jason Reynolds - - A guide for young people, parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this young adult book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions to get to know the authentic personalities and motivations of kids from one school in the short time between leaving school and getting home one afternoon.

This is a story that takes place in one day from ten different perspectives. In the ten blocks around the school as it lets out one day, we meet kids and learn who are they when there are no adults listening in. The book shows we are all connected, and through even the smallest interactions we are all in community together. We see glimpses of the others in each story, illustrating how our actions impact others. We see that small things, and our small actions matter. 

Before Reading

Ask: How do you get home from school? What have you noticed about other kids as school gets out before they head home?

Show: Look at the details on the cover of the ten stories that intersect in this book "in ten blocks." What are the two meanings of blocks?  

Connect: Think about who you are when you are being authentically yourself. Where and when (and doing what) can you be yourself? In this story, we learn about who these kids really are between school and home.

During Reading

Ask: In the story "Skitter Hitter" about Pia's skateboard, how did Stevie feel about his part in bullying her? Why did he join the boys, and how did he try to make it up to Pia?

Show: After reading "The Low Cuts Strike Again," look at the last five paragraphs of the story. Why did they go through the elaborate stealing and selling? What does the end tell you about the low cuts? 

Connect: Think about the role of video games in the story "Call of Duty." What does playing video games do for kids? How does it make them lonely and how does it bring them together?

After Reading

Ask: Which one is your favorite story and why? Which is  your favorite character (or duo/group) and why?

Show: Show the epigraph after the final story. What does it mean? 

"A foot leaves, a foot lands, and our longing gives it momentum from rest to rest." - Garnette Cadogan

Connect: Where do you see yourself represented in these stories and characters? We keep hearing about the school bus falling out of the sky. Talk about the different examples and what it means to you.

Activities

  1. Jason Reynolds is a poet. Poetry is a format that allows us to play with language and try new things, in short lengths with some of the rules relaxed. Try writing a poem about your walk or ride home from school. Include the feelings, observations, and reflections.
  2. Write about who you authenitically are. You don't have to share it. Tell one descriptive slice of your life that is free from the expectations of others - who are you when you are being yourself?
  3. If you want to do something difficult or brave, you are already part-way there. Author Jason Reynolds says to put one foot in front of the other without thinking about whether it is easy or hard. "If you want to do something, just give it a solid swing." Make a list of a few things you'd like to do. Pick one and take a swing at it. 
  4. Use art materials to represent a feeling or moment from the story that shows people in community together.
  5. Write a paragraph about what community means to you and include a description of what your role is in making a community work.