Written by: Josh Farrar
For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about A Song for Bijou and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!
From the moment Alex Schrader first spots Bijou, he is interested in everything about her: where she's from, who she is, and why he's never seen her before. Bijou is from Haiti and has just moved in with her aunt and uncle in the United States, after having survived the horrible earthquake that struck her home country in 2010. Their lives are very different, and while Bijou isn't allowed to socialize outside of school, she finds herself wanting to spend time with Alex. As their innocent romance blossoms, they must find a way to navigate the intolerance of their classmates, the strict rules of Bijou's guardians, and Bijou's painful past.
Bijou has just recently moved to America from Haiti. What did you know about Haiti before reading this story? What did you learn about it from this story? How are Alex and Bijou's cultures different?
How would you describe Alex's character? What would you say are his best and worst qualities?
What do people perceive Haiti to be like? How are these perceptions different from the Haiti that Bijou grew up in?
How would you describe Bijou's family? How did the 2010 earthquake in Haiti affect her life?Why don't they want Bijou to talk to people outside of their family?
How did Bijou learn to speak English? Were there any French words or phrases that stuck out to you as you read?
Both Alex and Bijou experience teasing in this story. Have you ever experienced any teasing for being different? How did you handle it? How did Alex and Bijou handle it? Did both of these ways work to end the teasing? Why or why not?
- Which character is your favorite? Which is your least favorite? Which character do you relate to the most? Why?
- What do you think the music and dance at the end of the story meant to Bijou?
- Check out this interesting interview with Josh Farrar to learn what inspired him to write this story.
- Discover more about Haitian culture through your own research! Learn about their foods, dances, clothes, and other cultural elements!
Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!