Those Shoes Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
by Maribeth Boelts - ​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 gain empathy, generosity, and social awareness.

Jeremy longs for the popular tennis shoes worn by many of his classmates, but his grandmother insists he doesn’t need them. In “Those Shoes", author Maribeth Boelts explores the themes of generosity, friendship and the difference between needs and wants. 

Literature Guide by Maureen Klein

Before Reading

Ask: What is the difference between needs and wants?  Give examples of clothes we want to wear and clothes we need to wear. 

Show: Show the illustration on the front cover of the book. What do you notice?  If needed, prompt the listener to look at the shoes on the boys’ feet (three boys have matching shoes and one does not). Just by looking at the illustration, make some predictions about what might happen in the story.

Connect: As you listen to the story, pay close attention to how the main character feels about his shoes and how he “fits in” with the other kids in his class.

During Reading

Show: Show students the illustrations on the page that begins “We shoot baskets - a loose piece of tape on Antonio’s shoe smacks the concrete every time he jumps.” How do you think Antonio feels about his shoes?

Ask: Jeremy is thinking “I’m not going to do it.”  What choice is he wrestling with?  If needed, prompt students to look at Antonio’s shoes.

Connect: What do you think Jeremy is going to do? Why is this choice (to give Antonio his shoes) so hard for Jeremy? In what ways does Jeremy benefit personally from the choice he made?

After Reading

Ask: Why do you think Jeremy gave the shoes to Antonio?  How did that act of generosity make both boys feel?

Show: Show students the final illustration of the book in which Antonio and Jeremy are racing in the snow. Using evidence from the text, how would you describe their friendship?

Connect: Think about the friends in your life. As a class, create a list of the qualities that make a good friend.


  1. Create a Character Map using the graphic organizer below or this Google doc (you will be asked to copy).
  2. Design and draw a great pair of shoes that you would love to wear. Label its features.
  3. Look at your wardrobe. Do you have clothes or shoes you don't wear that can be donated. Find a local clothing donation site and take your gently used itmes there.
  4. Brainstorm acts of generosity you can complete for three friends or family members that you know they will really appreciate. Then go do them!

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