A Bus Called Heaven

Written By: Bob Graham 

Before Reading

Explore Text and Illustrations:

Take time to look over the cover and illustrations of the book before diving into the story. Ask your child questions about what s/he predicts the story is about by asking:

What do you think will happen in this story?

Who are all of those people on the front cover? What do you think they are doing? 

Why do you think the bus is called “Heaven”? 

{Flip to a certain page} What do you think is happening in this picture?

This story highlights the importance of community and friendship so ask your child about these themes by asking, “Can you think of a time when you worked together with friends, classmates, or someone else to do something? What were you doing? Did it help to work with other people? Why or why not?”

As You Read

The story hints to certain elements of religion, so if you are so inclined, bring these to your child’s attention. On the other hand, it is quite possible to explore this story much as our curator discusses in her review of the book here. This is a story about a community coming together, working hard, and making a difference that improves life for everyone.

Vocabulary Building

During your read-through, encourage your child to stop if they come across a word that they do not know. Allow him/her to discover the word’s meaning using the words and illustrations surrounding it.

Examples of new words in A Bus Called Heaven include:




Making Connections

One way to make the story more engaging is to relate the events of the story to your child’s own experiences. Ask your child if a part of the story reminds them of something that has happened in his/her own life. For example, when Stella discovers the abandoned bus and tells the community that is for all of them, ask your child, “Can you think of a place that you share with other people? What do you do there? How does everyone take care of that place? How is it like the Heaven bus? How is it different?” Several examples include school, your home, a playground, etc. 

Continue the discussion with why these places are important to your child. Who does s/he see at these public gathering places? Why do they bring him/her happiness?

After Reading 

Summarize and Interpret: 

Ask these questions to gauge your child’s comprehension of the story:

What was your favorite part of the story? Why?

What did the people in the town do when they found the bus?

Why did the tow truck take the bus away?

How did Stella and the whole community get it back?

The Heaven bus became a community center of sorts where Stella and her friends could relax and enjoy each other’s company. Ask your child, “Why do you think the people wanted to fix the bus up? How did they work together to fix it? Why did they try so hard to keep the bus when it was towed away?” These questions will get your child thinking about community and how the bus allowed them to bond together over a common goal.

Activity: Design Your Own Heaven Bus

Adapted from PBS Parents


Supplies: ½ gallon milk carton, 4 bottle caps, white construction paper, hot glue gun or glue stick, markers or crayons, paint, paintbrush,stickers, foam letter stickers (optional)

Take an old, abandoned :) milk carton and turn it into your very own Heaven bus with this fun project that you and your child can work on together!

  1. Paint the milk carton whatever color you want your Heaven bus to be.
  2. Cut two strips of white construction paper and fold them into thirds. Draw lines at the folds to make three bus windows. Draw a person in each window. Don’t forget to draw Stella!
  3. Add a black strip of construction paper under the windows and affix foam letters spelling “Heaven” to each side. (Optional)
  4. Decorate your Heaven bus with paint, construction paper, stickers, and whatever else you like. 
  5. Cut a small circle that is the same size as the opening of the carton. Draw the bus drivers face onto the circle and glue it on.
  6. Add bottle cap wheels to each side using glue.
  7. For added fun, you can cut a large door opening in the back of the carton and let toys and dolls get on board your bus!

Reading Tips:

Read Everything!

Whether it is reading a road map on a trip or reading from a menu, get your child in the habit of reading things besides books. For younger children, point these things out and tell them what they say. For older children, ask them to read them for you to promote reading development. 

Read Favorite Books Multiple Times.

By doing so, your child will learn to predict outcomes and recognize patterns in the stories that they read. It can also help your child to recognize new elements in the story that they may not have noticed during the first read-through. 

Read With Your Eyes and Fingers.

Following along with your finger as you read trains your child to read from left to right and is the first  step to linking sounds to the words that they correspond with.