I was a voracious reader as a child. One of the many books that I read that has stuck with me as special and memorable was Betsy Byars’, The Pinballs. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

The Pinballs was published in 1976, so it is a little dated, but the underlying themes in the story will still resonate with kids today, and in today’s turbulent times maybe even more so! Kids can relate to the feeling of having no power and being bounced around like a pinball only going where they are pushed to go.

From the Book Jacket:

Carlie knows she’s got no say in what happens to her. Stuck in a foster home with two other kids, Harvey and Thomas J, she’s just a pinball being bounced from bumper to bumper. As soon as you get settled, somebody puts another coin in the machine and off you go again. But against her will and her better judgment, Carlie and the boys become friends. And all three of them start to see that they can take control of their own lives.

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Kids will find something to relate to in Carlie, Thomas J, and Harvey’s experiences. Topics of foster care, child abuse, and alcoholism are as relevant today as they were in 1976. Byars hits these themes head-on and kids will appreciate the bluntness of the reality. Students will feel the pain that these protagonists experience and they will also journey with these characters to find that ray of hope that can lead them to a better place. Perseverance is the name of the game with these characters and it is a good lesson for any young reader to see and feel to help with their own personal struggles.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Pinballs for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

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