Cynthia Voigt‘s Tillerman Series may very well be remembered as one of the classic series of our age. Since the publication of Homecoming in 1981, young readers have found in these books stories that resonate with them. Many adults today fondly remember reading the series in junior high or high school. For some, Homecoming was the first book that truly captivated them, serving as a gateway to a world of other great stories and adventures just waiting to be discovered.
Homecoming is not only the first book in the series, it is the first book written by Cynthia Voigt. In it we are introduced to Dicey and her three younger siblings, James, Maybeth, and Sammy, just as their mother abandons them in the parking lot of a shopping mall. With no home to return to and very little money, Dicey sets out on a determined journey to find what little family they have–a great-aunt named Cilla that they have never met–in the hope that they will find their mother, or at least avoid being split up and placed in foster care.
There is much to love about using Homecoming in a classroom setting. The characters have great depth. This is a great book for analyzing characters or comparing and contrasting different characters within the same story. Even before their mother abandons them, the Tillerman children have endured their share of adversity. Their father left the family years ago, their mother is mentally unstable and struggles to make ends meet. They have no one that they can depend on for help. The difficult background of the Tillerman children is wonderful for engaging struggling learners, many of whom can find parallels between the Tillermans’ story and their own. On the flip side, the rich details and engaging characters of the story can help to teach empathy to students who have always had the good fortune of having loving and supportive families.
Homecoming is a wonderful read for students in grades 5 and up. For students at the bottom of this range (grades 5 and 6), consider reading some parts of the story aloud. This is a story that is great for opening up discussions about topics that that many students of this age don’t fully comprehend (mental illness, foster care, learning disabilities, homelessness, and poverty). This will open up opportunities to dispel myths or assumptions that lead to prejudices and provide examples to help to further explain the issues.
- ages 10 and up
- Lexile score: 630
- 400 pages
- Notable Children’s Trade Book in the field of social studies, 1981
- National Council for Social Studies/Children’s Book Council, 1981
- American Book Award Nominee, 1981
- ALA Best of the Best for Young Adults
This novel study was designed to help you easily study this book with your students. It has everything that you will need to complete a thorough study of Homecoming. No need to spend hours pouring over the text in painstaking detail. It’s all taken care of for you! This 90 page novel study includes:
- Student Worksheet Packet
- Pre-reading activity
- Vocabulary work
- Open response questions
- Writing prompts
- Character study graphic organizers
- Understanding Theme graphic organizers
- Student project options
- Final review quiz
- Word wall cards
- Vocabulary and definition cards
- Question and answer dice game
- Complete answer key
- CCSS checklists for grades 5-8
OTHER RESOURCES FROM AROUND THE WEB:
- Reading Group Guide from Simon & Schuster with Discussion Topics and Activities & Research ideas
- Novel Guide from McDougal-Littell with literature connections and additional reading
- 60 Second Book Review – Show this video to your students before reading the book. Discuss how the speaker in the video persuades the view to read the book. After reading the book, have students make their own 60 second book reviews or write a book review telling other why they should or should not read Homecoming.
- Student Bounty study questions and suggested essay topics
- Quizlet quiz questions