Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Teaching Activities

After seeing a cardinal, close your eyes, spit three times, and make a wish. — You can make a wish if you clap three times before crossing a state line. — You can make a wish if you see a camel-shaped cloud. These are just a few of Charlie’s superstitions in Wish by Barbara O’Connor.

The Story

These are just a few of the unusual things Charlie uses to make her daily wish; the same wish she has made every day since fourth grade.

When Charlie’s family ‘becomes broken,’ Charlie moves to the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina to live with her aunt and uncle. She becomes friends with Howard who lives next door. The two are complete opposites — Howard’s calm easygoing personality compared to Charlie’s fiery temper. Throw in a stray dog who Charlie names Wishbone, and you have a heartwarming story that will make you tear up as you watch Charlie struggle with where she belongs.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities

Book Unit Samples

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Novel Study Samples

This sample contains the following:

  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructed Response Question – Sequencing
  • Activities and Discussion for Chapters 1-2
  • Story Mapping
  • English – Lesson 1 – Understanding Sentences

Teaching Idea #1 ~ Comparing Dog Themed Books

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities

Literally, thousands of great books about dogs can be found. This project centers on six novels including Pax which is the story of a fox. Students read the summaries of the six books. They then complete a chart to make comparisons. A Venn diagram is also included for students to go into detail when comparing and contrasting two dog-themed books.

Note: This activity can be completed without reading all six books. The included summaries provide the information. This is a great way to build interest in some new books. 

Teaching Idea #2 ~ Making Wishes

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities

Charlie is always looking for objects that she can wish upon…

Clover! Maybe I could find a four-leaf clover… I searched and searched. Sure enough, I found one. But I didn’t pick it. If you pick it, it will bring you good luck, but if you leave it growing there, you can make a wish, which is exactly what I did.

Have students list traditions and superstitions around making a wish.

Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Blowing out birthday candles

  2. Seeing a shooting star

  3. Making a wishbone wish

  4. Finding a dandelion with seeds

  5. Seeing a rainbow

  6. Wishing on a coin thrown into a fountain or well

  7. Seeing a ladybug

  8. Seeing a shooting star

Teaching Idea #3 ~ Discussion Questions

Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities


  • How does Charlie’s relationship with her mother impact her sense of belonging and identity?
  • What different forms of family are represented in the book? How do they support or challenge Charlie’s understanding of what a family is?
  • How does Charlie’s relationship with Wishbone help her understand the concept of family?


  • What do Charlie and Howard learn about each other through their experiences with Wishbone?
  • How does Charlie’s friendship with Imogene change over the course of the book? What role does Howard play in this process?

Loss and Grief

  • How do Charlie and Howard cope with the loss of their loved ones? 
Wish by Barbara O’Connor Activities


  • How does Charlie’s search for belonging affect her relationships with others?
  • How do the different characters in the book challenge or support Charlie’s sense of identity and belonging?


  • How do the characters in the book learn to forgive themselves and others?
  • What role do kindness and empathy play in the process of forgiveness?

See the product that inspired this post.

Wish Novel Study

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

Gay Miller

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