Author Feature-Robin Roe


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

High School

Featured Author

Robin Roe




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Book Trailer


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Book Discussion Questions 

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When Julian asks Miss West on a particularly bad day if she’s ok and she starts to cry and says its her son’s birthday.  Julian immediately understands that her son has died.  Do you feel that people who have experienced someone close to them dying automatically know when another person is referring to their own loss? Why or why?

If you were in Adam’s shoes would you have called the police after finding Julian? Why or why not?

What do you think his Mom’s lists were about? What were the lists of and why did she not put titles?

When Julian first gets into trouble, his Uncle says, “Go get it”.  What do/did you think “it” was?

Julian has a deep affection for the Elian Mariner books and continues to read them even after he has outgrown the intended age group for the books. What book or book series did you love as a kid that you still enjoy reading today?

Adam’s best friend Charlie has difficulty warming up to Julian. Why do you think it’s so difficult for Charlie to accept Julian as a part of the group?

Julian thinks a lot about where his parents went after they died. Why do you think it’s so important to Julian in particular to know where they are?

Do you agree with Julian’s mother, that “no one is evil, only unhappy”?  Do you believe that this is an excuse for certain behaviors and others should just try being nice to those that are “unhappy”?  Why or why not?

Julian realizes that he has let his fears cage him in.  When was there a time were you so fearful of something that it kept you from doing things you really wanted to do or try? Describe it.

 When was there a time you felt kindness ricochet and spread like Julian describes?




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Academic Programs 

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General Academic Program Introduction

The following academic lessons are intended to help the teacher/librarian incorporate high interest, quality literature into the curriculum, while growing the love of reading in their students. 


Activity 1 Title

Family isn’t Always Biological


Activity 1 Introduction

As an introduction to the themes of the book, students will complete a quick write based on the phrase, “Family isn’t always biological”. 


Activity 1 TEKS

ELAR – 4a, 4b, 4e, 5b, 5h


Activity 1 Supply List



Journals if applicable


Activity 1 Detailed Description of Activity

Introduction to quick writes.  The students will write a brief response to a statement.  This will allow the students to think about the theme before they know what it relates to.  Students will start with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and the statement “Family isn’t always biological”.  After giving the students 3-5 minutes to “quick write” or free write what they think that statement means, introduce different types of relationships that are built on trust: foster relationships, adoption, friends. Discuss different topics such as abuse, neglect, death, and even special needs that might necessitate the need to have trusting relationships with someone other than your family.  This conversation can lead into an introduction of A List of Cages, and the themes of friendship, abuse, and trust that are a constant throughout the story. 


Activity 1 Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians




Activity 2 Title

Building Trust


Activity 2 Introduction

Relationships, friendships, and trust are important themes throughout this book.  Julian and Adam must learn to trust each other again after a long period of time.  Julian has endured many tragedies at such a young age that he finds it hard to form relationships and trust others.   Write an essay explaining the value of making trusting relationships with your peers. 


Activity 2 TEKs

 ELAR – 1a, 1b, 1c, 1e, 2a, 6, 10, 13a, 13b, 13c, 13e, 15a, 15d, 17a, 17b, 17c, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23


Activity 2 Books to Display

Display a variety of books about friendship that students would enjoy.  Some examples are listed below.

Zac & Mia by A. J. Betts

A Love Story Starring my Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Be Good, Be Real, Be Crazy by Chelsey Philpot

Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell by Liane Shaw

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Stanford


Activity 2 Supply List

Books from Books to Display List

Frayer Model Graphic Organizer

Paper (STAAR 26 lines paper)



Activity 2 Detailed Description of Activity

After discussing some of the hardships Julian has endured and some of the ways, trusting his friends has helped him, have the students use the Frayer Model Organizer to brainstorm the words “trust” and “peers”.  Ask students to think about a time when they trusted their friends, or when their friends put their trust in them.  Provide details and examples of ways they build trust in their friendships. 


Activity 2 Activity Resources

STAAR lined paper

Frayer Model Organizer



Activity 3 Title

Alternative Book Reports



Activity 3 Introduction

This lesson is intended for any ELAR class and can be used for any ability level.  This will serve as an alternative book report.  The lesson will require the students to create a storyboard, and timeline, while summarizing the book and inferring the ending for the audience. 


Activity 3 TEKS

 ELAR - 4a, 4b, 4d, 4f, 4h, 5d, 5e, 7h


Activity 3 Supply List

Chromebooks/desktops/iPads/smart devices any of these types of devices will be appropriate for the project. 

Rubric provided in resources

Storyboard/Graphic Organizer provided in resources

Access to various digital tools (suggestions in Resources)

Sample Book Trailers provided in Resources


Activity 3 Detailed Description of Activity

The teacher will start with introducing the topic of book trailers to the class.  Teacher will show several examples of book trailers to students, both professional (publisher made) and student made.  Discuss what makes the trailers good versus what made it bad. 

Question to think about:

Did the trailer let you know who the characters are?

Do you know where the story takes place?

Did the trailer give too much of the story away?

What methods were used to “sell” the book?

Students will then have time to view other book trailers from additional websites on their own. (Additional websites provided in Resources list) Students can select one book trailer to share with the class or another student.  They will need to critique the trailer for their classmates.


Hand out assignment instructions and rubric provided in resources list.  Go over instructions with students and discuss the different digital tools that are available for them to use for their assignment.  Answer any questions they may have.  Students will begin brainstorming and receiving feedback on their initial ideas.  


Throughout the process, mini lessons may be needed to teach citations, and bibliography depending on the level of your students. 


Students will need to submit their storyboard and their bibliography for full credit.


Activity 3 Activity Resources

Student Instructions and Rubric


Student Made Trailers


Professional Trailers


Activity 3 Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

Student Made Trailers


Professional Trailers


Additional Resources








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Active Programs

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Book Buddies Flyer

Book Buddies Guidelines

Book Buddies Recap

Guess What Prompts

Guess What List

Guess What Player Card


Library Book Buddies


Activity Introduction

Julian and Adam first meet one another during a reading buddy program when they are in elementary school. This is the first time that Adam is able to connect with Julian and it sparks their brotherly relationship that is carried throughout the book. Libraries are a great place to hold a book buddies program, partnering teens with elementary school children to help them practice their reading skills.


Books to Display or Book Talk

Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit by Cece Bell
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
You Are Not Small by Anna Kang
Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea by Cynthia Rylant
Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book by Cynthia Rylant
Monkey and Elephant by Carole Lexa Shaefer
What is Chasing Duck? by Jan Thomas
We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems
Waiting is Not Easy! by Mo Willems


Activity Supply List

Copies of Book Buddies Volunteer Flyer
Copies of Book Buddies Volunteer Guidelines
Copies of Book Buddies Recap Sheet
Books of varying reading levels


Detailed Description of Activity

Advertise for teen volunteers at the library. Have teens complete volunteer applications or other forms and undergo an orientation or training in accordance with the library’s policy on teen volunteers. Once the teen volunteers have completed any pre-volunteer requirements, schedule an informational session to discuss the purpose of a book buddies program and what it entails. At the informational session, handout volunteer guidelines explaining how volunteers can best help their reading buddies.

Once the volunteers are trained, advertise for your first book buddies program. Select books with various reading levels for the children to choose from. Websites like Brightly can be used to help find titles for different age groups/reading levels.

When the program begins, assign each child one of the teen book buddies. If there are more children than volunteers, have the children take turns with the volunteers. Have the teen volunteers help their buddies pick a book and find a space in the library to read together. After they have finished their book, the volunteer can help their buddy fill out a Book Buddies Recap sheet that the child can take home with them.


Activity Resources

Book Buddies Volunteer Flyer
Book Buddies Volunteer Guidelines
Book Buddies Recap Sheet

Activity Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

PBS Reading Buddies Program:
Literacy Connects article:
Reading Buddies resources:




Watch What You Read: A Book to Film Comparison


Activity Introduction

Julian is dyslexic and does not enjoy reading. Adam is able to capture his interest by bringing one of the Elian Mariner books, with a picture of a boy on a boat. Julian is excited when he sees the cover, as he loves The Swiss Family Robinson, a story about a family shipwrecked on an island. The Swiss Family Robinson was adapted into several movies, with the most well-known adaptation being the Disney version from 1960. This program would allow teens to read the original book from 1812 and watch the movie from 1960 and discuss the similarities and differences between the two.


Books to Display

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Shipwreck by Gordan Korman
Starglass by Phoebe North
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi


Activity Supply List

The Swiss Family Robinson book (multiple copies if possible)
Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson DVD


Detailed Description of Activity

Advertise for this program several weeks in advance to give attendees a chance to read the book. If possible, have multiple copies available for check out or several paperback copies available to give away. Display books similar to Swiss Family Robinson, including books about shipwrecks, travel adventures, and being stranded on an island.

At the beginning of the program, give a small introduction about the book before watching the movie. After the movie, discuss the similarities and differences between the book and movie. Please make sure that your library has a public performance site license to show the movie.


Activity Resources

Watch What You Read program flyer

Activity Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians



 Guess What?

Activity Introduction

Julian has a notebook belonging to his mother that is full of lists that have no titles and no explanations as to what they are lists of. In this activity, teens will draw a theme or subject from the jar and make a list of 8 to 10 items that might be on a list with that title or theme. Then, teens will exchange lists and try to guess what the theme or subject of the list is.


Books to Display or Book Talk

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Split by Swati Avasthi
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Activity Supply List

Copies of Guess What? List Sheet
Copies of Guess What? Player Card
Copy of Guess What? Prompts
Jar or container to put prompts in


Detailed Description of Activity

Print out several copies of the Guess What? List Sheet and the Guess What? Player Card as well as one copy of the Guess What? Prompts. Number all of the Guess What? List Sheets in the upper right corner, starting with the number “1” and continuing numerically until all the sheets have been assigned a number. Cut the Guess What? Player Cards in half. Cut out the prompts and fold in half, placing them all in a jar or container.

When the program begins, have all teens grab a pen or pencil, a Guess What? List Sheet, Player Card, and a prompt from the jar. Give teens several minutes to write a list of 8 to 10 items that match the theme or title they drew from the jar. Once everyone has completed their lists, have the teens pass their lists to the person on their left. Give the teens a couple of minutes to write down what they think the title or theme of the list they’ve received is on their Player Card next to the number corresponding to the number on the Guess What? List Sheet. Once everyone is done, the lists can be passed to the left again. This will continue until the teens receive their original list back. Let the teens each have a turn to read their list to the group and announce the theme or title of the list.

Activity Resources

Guess What? List Sheet
Guess What? Player Card
Guess What? Prompts










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Passive Program

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A List of Cages - PASSIVE PROGRAM #1

Game On!

In A List of Cages, board games help Julian connect and open up to the people around him. This program allows teens to interact with one another outside of a regularly scheduled program. Librarians can set up board games on a cart or table in an area that has plenty of room for teens to spread out and set up the games.


Books to Display

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black
It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith


Activity Supply List

Cart or table to stack games

Pencils or pens

5-10 multiplayer board games
Table(s) and chairs for teens to play games on

Detailed Description of Activity

This passive program requires minimal set up. Use board game review sites, like The Dice Tower and Board in the Library, as well as instructional videos, like Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop show, to help choose a wide variety of games that require different numbers of players and last for different lengths of time.

Stack the games on a cart or table. Choose an area in the library with tables and chairs for the teens to play the games. Place a sign on the table inviting teens to play games. Set up books to display on a table or cart in the activity area.


If this passive program is used for a long period of time, consider switching out the games after a while.


Activity Resources for Teens, Teachers & Librarians

Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop show -
The Dice Tower -
Board in the Library -



A List of Cages - PASSIVE PROGRAM #2


General Introduction to Passive Program

The purpose of this display is to provide teens with read-a-likes and informational texts about child abuse.  Hopefully, the display will provide an escape, or outlet to open conversations and increase awareness about child abuse and the ways to prevent it, as well as, ways to identify and help victims of abuse.


Activity Title

Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness


Activity Introduction

Books should be rotated and displayed throughout the duration of the month.


Books to Display or Book Talk

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Split by Swati Avasthi
Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived An Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island by Regina Calcaterral
Out of This Place by Emma Cameron
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Room by Emma Donoghue
Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper
Blood Family by Anne Fine
Now is Everything by Amy Giles
Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green
Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall
Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heatherfield
Broken three times: a story of child abuse in America by Joan Kaufman
Still Life With a Tornado by A. S. King
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Roe



Activity Supply List

Butcher paper for tables covers

Scissors, tape


Detailed Description of Activity
A static display that will provide readers with fiction and nonfiction titles that will raise awareness and spark conversations about stopping and identifying child abuse.  The titles should be rotated for the duration of the program. 




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Created on Mar 27, 2018 | Last updated March 28, 2018