Fans of The One and Only Ivan and Crenshaw are going to love Katherine Applegate’s newest novel Wishtree. The story is told from the perspective of Red, a 216-year-old red oak tree living in a suburban neighborhood. Red is one special tree. Every May Day, people in the area tie pieces of fabric with wishes all over Red. Because Red has witnessed years of humans telling her their deepest wishes as they tie rags onto her branches, she understands sadness.
A Muslim family with a daughter named Samar moves into Red’s neighborhood. Red sees how lonely Samar is and wants to help her. Red discusses Samar with the animals that live in her branches hoping for a way to help. One day, Samar ties a wish on Red. Her wish is simple; she wants a friend. With the aid of the animals, Red helps Samar and teaches an important lesson to the entire neighborhood in the process.
The story is tangled with several subplots dealing with prejudice making it a must-read for students.
Book Unit Samples
This sample contains the following:
- Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-5
- Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-5
- Constructed Response Question for Responding to Text
Teaching Idea #1 ~ Four Corners
As a hook activity for the book have students learn about the history behind wish trees. Four corners is also a great opening activity for this book.
Have students move into groups based on whether or not they believe in specific good luck objects or practices. The handout includes full instructions including suggested questions for this activity.
This handout contains all activities described in this post.
Teaching Idea #2 ~ Nonfiction Article “Wish Trees”
This article provides an overview of what wish trees are as well as different types of wish trees found around the world. Comprehension questions follow the article making it a great close reading activity.
Teaching Idea #3 ~ Wish Tree Craftivity
After discussing the significance of wish trees, have students create a wish tree full of their own wishes. These look fantastic mounted on construction paper and placed on a bulletin board. Add a catchy title such as…
DREAM big, SPARKLE more, and SHINE bright.