A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith is a poignant tale of friendship and loss. 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.

A Taste of Blackberries was published in 1973 and won multiple awards. It was a struggle for Ms. Smith to get her novel published as many felt the subject matter was too advanced for young readers. Topics such as death had been taboo unless the characters were animals, such as 1952’s, Charlotte’s Web. Smith’s story fits well into the literary realism of that era and after being rejected by three publishers she finally found a home in Harper Collins.


From the Book Jacket:

Jamie isn’t afraid of anything. Always ready to get into trouble, then right back out of it, he’s a fun and exasperating best friend.

But when something terrible happens to Jamie, his best friend has to face the tragedy alone. Without Jamie, there are so many impossible questions to answer — how can your best friend be gone forever? How can some things, like playing games in the sun or the taste of the blackberries that Jamie loved, go on without him?


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The story is a somber one but it isn’t one that students should shy away from. Many of us have a friend like Jamie, with a carefree and often reckless manner. It also is a subject matter that helps students understand grief and guilt and how a person moves through that after a loss. It can be a helpful read for a child going through a grieving period to help them feel less alone. It is also good for those that want to help someone move through a loss and empathize.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany A Taste of Blackberries 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:

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