Small Planet Communications, Inc. + 15 Union Street, Lawrence, MA 01840 + (978) 794-2201 + Contact
Sing Down the Moon
by Scott O'Dell
The Book Club Novel Guide outlines a complete theme-based unit with Book Club lesson plans focusing on Sing Down the Moon.
Below you will find a synopsis, further reading materials, discussion topics, and reviews that you might find useful during your teaching of Sing Down the Moon.
Fourteen-year-old Bright Morning is a Navaho girl living in the Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “shay”) in Arizona in the mid-1860s. One day as she and a friend are tending their sheep, Spanish slavers kidnap them. They travel for several days until they come to a town where the girls are sold as slaves. Bright Morning vows that she will never smile in this place. Then she meets a Nez Percé girl who has a plan for escape. As they flee, the girls meet up with Tall Boy, the young man Bright Morning hopes to marry. The group continues toward home but arrives there only after a skirmish with some Spaniards. Tall Boy is wounded and loses the use of one arm.
Life returns to normal for a while until some Long Knives—American soldiers—arrive in the canyon and order the Navahos to leave. The Navahos remove to a high mesa for a while, but when they run out of food and must return to the canyon, the soldiers force them to begin a long journey southward. As they walk, they are joined by many other Native Americans who are being forced from their homes. The journey, known as the Long Walk, is treacherous, and many people die along the way.
Finally Bright Morning and her people reach a camp called Bosque Redondo. Tall Boy and Bright Morning are married, but they are separated when Tall Boy gets into a fight and is thrown in jail. Bright Morning, now pregnant, yearns to escape and have her baby at home. When Tall Boy breaks out of prison, she rouses him from his despair and convinces him to start the long journey back to the Canyon de Chelly.
Further Reading and Links
The following sites can be used to support and enrich the Book Club unit for Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell.
About the Author and the Book
Explore the Setting of the Novel
Learn about Navajo History
Find Out about Navajo Culture
Investigate the Navajo Sheep
Big Theme Questions
Think back to a time when only Native Americans lived in North America. What do you think life was like for them?
Consider what happened when Europeans began to explore, settle, and expand land claims throughout North America. How did these activities change the lives of Native Americans?
Think about various groups of people who have been oppressed in the history of the United States and/or the world. What causes such oppression to happen? What can be learned from these events?
What kinds of things give people the strength to survive and overcome hardship and injustice?
Outline of Lesson Plan | Discussion Topics | Writing Prompts
The following section can be used to get discussions started in your classroom. It is based on the Lesson Plan within the Book Club Novel Guide for Sing Down the Moon. The Lesson Plan includes blackline masters for the students that support the writing prompts. The writing prompts provided are meant as suggestions only. As students become more comfortable with the Book Club format, they will certainly have ideas and questions that go beyond the prompts. Consider giving students “free choice” as a log option. Book Club Reading Logs help students respond to literature and organize ideas as they participate in Book Club.
Chapters 1–2 | Language Conventions: Responding to Sing Down the Moon
Chapters 3–5 | Comprehension: Summarizing
Chapters 6–7 | Literary Elements: Genre—Historical Fiction
Chapters 8–9 | Comprehension: Sequencing
Chapters 10–12 | Comprehension: Visualizing
Chapters 13–14 | Comprehension: Compare and Contrast
Chapters 15–16 | Language Conventions: Questioning
Chapters 17–18 | Literary Elements: Setting; Author’s Craft
Chapters 19–20 | Assessment: Student Self-Assessment
Chapters 21–22 | Literary Elements: Theme
Chapter 23 and Postscript | Response to Literature: Exploring Response Types