Pax by Sara Pennypacker Teaching Ideas

Teaching Ideas to Use with the Novel Pax

Pax is a wonderful novel by Sara Pennypacker. Pax tells the story of a boy named Peter and his pet fox named Pax. They live at an unnamed time in which war is coming to their home territory. Peter’s father enlists in the army and sends Peter to live with his grandfather. He makes Peter leave his pet fox out in the wild. Peter feels he has abandoned his pet that he feels a “oneness” with. The story is told from alternating perspectives (one chapter from Pax and the next from Peter).

Pax meets some other foxes. Bristle is a female who takes care of her younger brother Runt. They live in the same territory as Gray and his mate. Bristle is not friendly with Pax because he smells of humans.

Peter is unhappy with his grandfather. He feels guilty for leaving Pax. He takes off to find Pax. Shortly after leaving home, Peter falls and breaks his foot. He ends up with Vola, a war veteran, who has medical training. Vola and Peter become friends. As Vola helps Peter with his foot, they both share a confidence with one another. Peter explains how he doesn’t want to be like his father who is angry all the time. Vola tells Peter how she killed a man in battle.

Read Pax to learn if the boy and his beloved pet will be reunited in this war-torn time.

Pax Activities

Book Unit Samples

FREE Samples from Pax Book Unit

This sample contains the following:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructed Response Question – Character Traits




Teaching Idea ~ Father and Son Relationships

Peter has a difficult relationship with his father. Explore different father and son relationships by having students listen to songs.

Cat Stevens “Father and Son”

In this song by Cat Stevens, the father tries to give his son advice about how to live his life. The son is tired of being ordered to listen. He needs to go out on his own and make his own decisions; he can’t just simply follow his dad’s advice.

Dan Fogelberg “Leader of the Band”

Dan Fogelberg is honoring his father in this song. He tells a little about his father’s life. He thanks him for giving him the talent of music.

Neil Young “Old Man”

The video with this song is super powerful in its message. It will help the students understand the meaning of the song. The son realizes that he is very much like his father.


Harry Chapin “Cat’s in the Cradle”

The father is super busy working and doesn’t spend time with his son. The son grows up to be just like his father.


Brad Paisley “He Didn’t Have to Be”

This is a son/stepfather relationship. The son loves his stepfather. The son hopes “He is at least half the man that he didn’t have to be.”

Bruce Springsteen “My Father’s House”

The son returns to his father’s house. The house is still there, but his father isn’t. The implied message is that the son and father separated after a disagreement. The son waited a long time to make amends, too long; his father is no longer there.

Will Smith “Just the Two of Us”

The father tells his son how much he loves him. He gives advice to his son about how to be good.

Rodney Atkins “Watching You”

The father tells the story of his small son. The son watches his dad and imitates his father’s actions.


See the product that inspired this post.

Pax Book Unit

Pax Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.  



Permanent link to this article: