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A Summer of Kings Reading Guide

A Summer of Kings Reading Guide

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Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Oct 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“The brilliantly portrayed cast of charactersilluminates the gut-wrenching history of thetime, making tangible the sorrow and hurt thatis always personal.” — 
(starred review)
About the GuideAbout the Book
Prereading Activities
Tere are many reerences in te story to civil rigts movementevents and leaders. Ask the students to research the following:Martin Luther King Jr., Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, theMarch on Washington, and the Nation of Islam.
Reading and Understanding This Book
Wy oes Ester eel in great nee o a new aventure”?p. 3)How oes Pip eel aout Ester? How oes Ester eel aoutim? p. 4)Wat o Katy an Laura ave to o wit Esters osessionit King-Roy? p. )How does Esther feel about herself in comparison to herilings? p. 25)Why does Esther think King-Roy is “the luckiest boy onEarth”? (p. 27)Is Auntie Pie’s reaction to King-Roy reasonale? Wy or wynot? (p. 31)Wy is Ester scare o te name
Macom X
p. 34)Why does Esther’s mother give her such a hard time? (p. 52)Ester accuses Auntie Pie o eing prejuice. Do you agree?Why or why not? (p. 58)Wy oes King-Roy elieve e nees a gun? p. 1)Wat oes King-Roy say to Ester aout te wite evil”?Wo introuce im to tese ieas? p. 4)What does Esther think of Monsieur Vichy? (p. 81)Wat oes Ester overear er ater an Monsieur Vicydiscussing in the kitchen? How does it make her feel?pp. 84–85)Wat are te tree tings King-Roy says e will never o or aliving? What are his reasons? (p. 100)Wy oes King-Roy reuse to tap ance or Ester? p. 106)What does King-Roy tell Esther and Pip about his youngerilings? Wy is King-Roy so angry? pp. 1121)Why does Esther not want the part in the play that she isoffered? (pp. 139–40)Ester eels guilty or eing arai o te man in te gol suitin Harlem because she believes her thinking is prejudiced.Do you agree that she is being prejudiced? Why or why not?p. 152)What does Esther realize when she listens to the speaker at theHarlem rally? (pp. 160–61)Wy as King-Roy given up on nonviolence? pp. 215–1 an224–25)Wy is King-Roy so angry wen e returns rom Harlem tetir time? pp. 241–42)Wat oes King-Roy mean wen e tells Ester tey can nevere real riens”? p. 245)What does Esther mean when she sees Kathy and Laura in thegirls’ room an asks ersel,
Wen i I get so o
”? p. 334)What is ironic about King-Roy’s death?How oes Esters view o Pip cange over te course o te story?In what ways does Esther change over the course of the story?
Further Activities
• Esther’s mother will not allow her to listen to the Beach Boysbecause she says they are too loud and hedonistic. Play a recordingo Sur nUSAor your class an ask te stuents wat teytink o it. Do teir parents react to teir music te same wayEsters moter reacts to Esters music? Wic songs o teirparents islike? Wy ont teir parents like te music?• Esther feels like the world is passing her by. Ask the studentsto write aout a time in teir lie wen tey ave elt like Ester.Instruct tem to inclue etails suc as national or worl events,wat teir amily was oing, trens in pop culture, or scienti ciscoveries.• When Esther begins learning about the civil rights movement,se iscovers tat te nonviolent pilosopy avocate yMartin Luter King Jr. is ase on te teacings o MaatmaGani. Ask te stuents to researc Gani, is accom-plisments, an te principles o is nonviolent teacings.Ester an King-Roy o not sare te same view, ut otwant te same outcome: equality. Ask te stuents to write anessay comparing an contrasting Ester an King-Roys viewsusing irect quotes an supporting acts rom te ook. Havestudents write about which method they would have followed if they had been part of the civil rights era, and why.
Additional Resources
 A Summer of Kings 
is an excellent opportunity tointrouce stuents to te istory o te civil rigts movement.Te Soutern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alaama,offers noteworty resources to teacers ree o carge trougits Teaching Tolerance project. A free kit called
 America’s Civil Rigts Movemen
is available. The kit contains the documentary
 A Time for Justice 
, wic aresses te events an issues epictein te novel; a companion ook,
ree at ast 
; an a teacersguie wit lesson plans. Te kit can e orere at te wesitewww.teacingtolerance.org.
What inspired you to write this novel? 
Its ar to tink ack an gure out wat te original impetusas or writing tis story. I ten to carry ieas an caracters anits o tis an tat aroun in my ea or years eore tey nallyfind a place in my stories. I’ve always wanted to write about thisbig old house my family lived in for three years from 1963 to1965. I was only seven years ol in 1963, ut several tings let animpression on me aout tose ays in tat ouse. First, tere wasust te un o living in suc an amazing uiling—a ouse wittis really cool allroom in it. Te oter ting tat let animpression on me was all the people who came and stayed at theouse: young, old, white, black, wealthy, poor, church groups,teacers, stuents. My parents ave always een tat way, incluingeveryone tey know in wat teyre oing an inviting tem intoteir omes, ut tis was a time wen I rst really ecame awareo it an realize everyone int live like tat. I tougt it wasreat. I felt special having all these people in my life. As for thecivil rights aspects of the story, that’s something I’ve beenesearcing an wanting to write aout or aout eigt years. Iveeen intereste in uman rigts, incluing te civil rigtsovement, just aout all my lie. I tink again tat stems rom myparents’ generous an inclusive attitue towar people.
What was your greatest challenge in writing this novel? 
Tere were quite a ew callenges or me wit tis novel. As Iai, I’ve een trying to write tis story or years, ut I never quitead the right characters and I could never find the right “entrance”into the story until now. It wasn’t until I set the story in the NewYork town were I grew up tat te wole ting starte to cometogeter. Up to tat point, I a een trying to write te storyet in te Sout, ut I nally realize tat wasnt were te storyneee to take place.Anoter prolem was tat until I got aout alway trougthe book, I didn’t really know what Esther’s problem was. I didn’tnow her true reason for being—for existing—and because of tat, King-Roys caracter kept treatening to take over te story.wonere i I neee to tell tis story troug King-Roys eyes.Ten, wile I was in Maine or two weeks up to my eyealls innow an sivering in a ouse witout eat, it came to me. I knewho Esther really was and why she was telling this story: She felthe was being left behind. The reason had been there all along; Iust coulnt see it. Tats wen I knew tis a to e Esterstory. Tats wen se really came alive or me.Yet anoter prolem or me was te lengt o te story. It tookme eigty-six pages just to get troug te rst ay, an I knew Istill had a whole summer to write about. I felt I could have writteneighty-six pages for every day of that summer, so obviously I hadto really rein it in to keep te story a manageale lengt.
A Summer of Kings 
is set during a tumultuous period in Americanhistory and obviously the lives of Esther and King-Roy are deeply touched by these historical events, but would you characterize the bookas a historical novel? 
Yes an no. I’ ate to tink o any perio o time I’ve livetroug as eing istorical—tat makes me eel so olut itis set in the past, and it does touch on some historical events andin as truthful and as authentic a way as I could possibly make it,so in tat sense it’s a istorical novel. However, I really trie toocus on two young people rom two ifferent worls an owteir lives come togeter or tis rie time. For me its alwaysaout te people: te caracters an teir lives an teir eelingsand interactions with others.
You were a child during the civil rights movement. Are there any particular events from that time that left a strong impression upon you? 
As I sai, I was only seven in 1963 an to tell you te trut, attat time I was completely olivious to te civil rigts movement.I remember we had a young black boy staying with us for a whileback then. I didn’t know why he was there. I just thought he wasa playmate my parents had invited to stay with us. I only foundout tis year rom my oler sister tat is visit was part o aprogram to ring city cilren out to te country.I just tougte was te cil o one o my parents riens. So, wen I wrotetis story, I wante to inclue some o tat innocence anignorance about the movement and those times in Esther andsome of the other characters.
What sort of research did you have to do get the historical aspects of thestory right? 
Like most writers I i a ton o researc. Every ay eore,during, and after writing this story, I was doing some kind of research. I wanted to get every detail right, down to the type of trees tat line te mall in Wasington, D.C., so tat wen Esteran Pip clim up in te tree, I coul name it. I rea everyting
An Interview with Han Nolan

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