After losing his mother four years ago, ten-year-old Bud Caldwell runs away from the foster care system in search of the father he has never met.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In Julia Alvarez’s short story “Names/Nombres,” the author explores the various names she has received over the years.
Read this memoir after chapter two to generate a discussion about character identity and our relationships with our names. In this chapter, Bud is placed in a new foster home. Have students discuss why they think Bud always says his name is “Bud, not Buddy.” Then, have students discuss how Julia feels about the different pronunciations of her name in “Names/Nombres.” Have students discuss how the characters’ names are an important aspect of their identities. Ask, “What do you think Bud’s name means to him? How is Bud’s thinking about his name similar to Julia’s thinking about her identity in ‘Names/Nombres?’” Students should provide evidence from both texts to support their thinking about how names are tied to identity.
In “Mother to Son,” a mother utilizes metaphor to communicate the struggles she's faced and the importance of perseverance to her son.
Read this text after chapter five to discuss the authors’ use of figurative language. In this chapter, Bud shares memories of his mother. Have students discuss the advice Bud’s mother gives him about doors closing and opening. Then, have students discuss the speaker’s advice about the crystal stair in “Mother to Son.” Have students analyze the authors’ use of figurative language. Ask, “What does Bud’s mother want him to understand when she describes the doors closing and opening? What does the mother in ‘Mother to Son’ want her son to understand when she describes the crystal stair? How does the authors’ use of figurative language in the two texts convey important messages about life?” Students should explain how the authors use metaphors to describe overcoming obstacles in life.
In “Left Behind,” a boy learns to use his senses to protect his village.
Read this text after chapter eight to generate a discussion on the theme of belonging. In this chapter, Bud finds a community in Hooverville and tries to board a train going West. Have students discuss Bud’s observations about Hooverville and his interactions with Bugs, Deza, and the adults in the community. Then, have students discuss Erik’s interactions with Bjorn and his mother during the raid in “Left Behind.” Have students consider the degree to which the characters feel a sense of belonging in their communities. Ask, “Why does Bud leave Hooverville after the confrontation between the crowd and the police? How are Bud’s feelings about Hooverville similar to and different from Erik’s feelings about his village in ‘Left Behind?’” Students should provide evidence from both texts to support their thinking about the theme of belonging.
In the poem “Dreams,” Langston Hughes uses metaphors to describe what life would be like without dreams.
Read this text after chapter nine to discuss the theme of hope. In this chapter, Bud explains why he believes Herman E. Calloway is his father. Have students discuss how Bud’s ‘little seed’ idea about his father grew. Then, have students discuss what the speaker says life would be like without dreams in “Dreams.” Have students consider the meaning of hope in both texts. Ask, “Why is Bud’s ‘seed’ idea so important to him? How is Bud’s ‘seed’ idea like the dreams the speaker describes in ‘Dreams?’ Why are hope and dreams important in life?” Students should provide evidence from both texts to support their thinking about the importance of hope.
This article provides a brief history of labor unions, including common tactics and important advances in workers’ rights.
Read this informational text before chapter twelve to help students build background knowledge about labor unions. In this chapter, Lefty Lewis explains why the Pullman porters are trying to unionize. Have students discuss what Bud learns from Lefty about the challenges workers are facing during the Great Depression. Then, have students discuss what they learn about unions’ strategies in “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions.” Have students consider the historical context behind this chapter. Ask, “What did you learn about the importance of labor unions? How do you think a labor union would help Lefty Lewis and the porters?” Students should provide evidence from both texts to support their thinking about Lefty’s situation.
In Walter Dean Myers’ short story “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push,” a boy must change his approach to basketball when he loses the ability to walk.
Read this text after chapter fourteen to discuss character development. In this chapter, Bud goes to a restaurant with Herman E. Calloway and his band. Have students discuss the obstacles Bud has overcome to meet Herman E. Calloway. Then, have students discuss the obstacles Chris has overcome in “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push.” Have students compare the characters’ experiences in the two texts. Ask, “How is Bud’s attitude about the obstacles he has faced similar to Chris’s in ‘Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push?’ How is the development of Bud’s relationship with the band members similar to the development of Chris’s relationship with his father?” Students should draw on the themes of family and belonging in both texts.
In Li-Young Lee’s poem “I Ask My Mother to Sing,” the narrator’s mother and grandmother sing of their old home in China.
Read this text after finishing Bud, Not Buddy to discuss themes of family and loss. Have students discuss how Bud, Herman E. Calloway, and Miss Thomas feel at the end of the novel. Then, have students discuss the speaker’s experience in “I Ask My Mother to Sing.” Have students analyze the themes of family and loss in the two texts. Ask, “What is the speaker’s message about family history in ‘I Ask My Mother to Sing?’ How is Bud’s family history both pleasant and painful like in the poem?” Students should provide evidence to explain the ways Bud’s past and present stir up different emotions for him and his family.