For Teachers:
Extraordinary Birds Educator’s Guide (PDF)

A little insight into Sandy’s process of teaching writing to her students

For Kids:
A look inside December’s bird journal

Meet-the-Author Recording with Sandy Stark-McGinnis

Extraordinary Birds: Discussion Questions

If you’d like to discuss Extraordinary Birds with your class or book group, here are some suggestions for questions and writing prompts. Sandy Stark-McGinnis is also a teacher who loves discussing books with students—feel free to contact her to set up a Skype visit.

1.) What is your first impression of December? Do you think she believes she will really transform into a bird? Why, or why not?

2.) Why do you think Eleanor and Cheryllynn are able to understand December in a way that allows her to be able to trust them?

3.) What feelings did the relationship between December and Cheryllynn evoke in you? Why do you think the author chose to create this relationship?

4.) Which character did you identify with most? Did the character remind you of anyone in your own life?

5.) What do you think the future holds for December? For Cheryllynn? For Eleanor?

6.) For what reasons, other than her passion for birds, do you think December uses bird facts?

7.) What do you think motivates Jenny’s feelings toward Cheryllynn?

8.) Why does December choose orange to describe the sound of Karen’s voice?

9.) What parallels are there between December and Henrietta, and between December and Teresa?

10.) If you were going to write a letter to December, what would the first sentence of the letter say? What would the last sentence say?

11.) What is the purpose of December’s Bird Girl story?

12.) There is a danger in December jumping out of trees. Why do you believe she risks the possibility of getting hurt?

13.) Cheryllynn has her own obstacles to navigate. What characteristics does she have that allow her to be confident and stand up to the vultures?

14.) What adjectives would you use to describe the way December feels at the end of the story when she releases Henrietta?

15.) How does the last line of the book relate to December and what she has learned living with Eleanor?

Writing Prompts

1.) If you were going to write a letter to December, what would the first sentence of the letter say? What would the last sentence say? Complete the letter.

2.) Write a poem expressing the way December feels on her way to Eleanor’s house for the first time.

3.) Write a journal entry from December’s point of view after she releases Henrietta.

4.) Pretend it’s a year after the story ends. Write a letter to December from Henrietta’s point of view, telling her about your life since being released back into the wild.

5.) Choose two birds. Research facts about them (habitat, diet, behavior, etc.), then compare and contrast them with each other. Which bird is your personality most like? Why?

6.) Choose a chapter, identify key events, and write a summary.