Free Study Guides for Teachers, Librarians and Parents


Aruna's Journeys and The Moon Over Crete are two middle-grade novels, written by Jyotsna Sreenivasan, which have been successfully used by teachers and book group leaders.

The following study guides for Aruna's Journeys and The Moon Over Crete can help teachers, book group leaders, librarians and parents add extra educational value to these books. Please feel free to print out these guides and share them with your colleagues.

NOTE: If you are a teacher, librarian or bookstore owner who wishes to buy Aruna's Journeys or The Moon Over Crete at a discount, they are available from Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Or contact the author at jyotsna64@aol.com. For individuals, you may buy the books online from Amazon.com by clicking on the titles above. Or ask for these books at your local bookstore or library.

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Study Guide to Aruna's Journeys, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan

Aruna's Journeys is a multicultural novel about an Indian-American girl, for grades 4-7. This study guide for Aruna's Journeys is designed to be used by teachers and/or parents, to help children better understand the themes of the book.

Each of the six lessons is divided into three parts. The Questions section simply makes sure the children have read the chapters and understand the story line. The Discussion Items section gives suggestions for topics to talk about with the class. Often there are no right or wrong answers in this section - rather, children are encouraged to listen to each others' ideas and react to them. The Activities section has suggestions for assignments that students can do on their own. These are mostly writing activities, but drawing, interviewing, and library research are included too.

During the class the students can also share their written and drawing activities with their classmates, and perhaps help each other with revisions.

I hope this study guide helps children develop their love of reading, as well as a curiosity and thoughtfulness about the world around them.

Synopsis of Aruna's Journeys

Aruna, 11, is an Indian-American girl who has been in the U.S. since she was five years old. As the novel opens she has just moved to a new house, leaving all her friends behind. Worst of all, at her new school there's another Indian girl in her grade! Aruna does not want to be friends with this girl, Sonal, because she thinks it will emphasize even more that she is "different." She really wants to fit in.

However, her parents have other ideas. They not only accept a dinner invitation to Sonal's house, but they also make Aruna go to Indian "Sunday School," where she has to learn Indian dance and culture.

Meanwhile, Aruna isn't having much luck making friends. Two girls in her neighborhood, Amber and Emily, laugh at the new rock Aruna has found for her rock collection. Aruna throws that rock away.

Finally, Aruna finds a best friend -- Darcy. She and Darcy enjoy going to a field near Darcy's house to collect rocks and insects. Aruna thinks Darcy has the perfect American family, and she wishes she were Darcy's sister. She is so excited when Darcy asks if Aruna can go to summer camp with her!

Unfortunately, Aruna's parents have planned a trip to India for the whole summer. Aruna is furious that her parents made these plans without asking her first.

Aruna is nervous about seeing her relatives in India after so many years. Will they like her? And will she remember all the strange rules her mother has given her about what not to do in India? Her fears are unfounded. From the moment she lands in India her relatives adore her. But there are other difficult things about being in India, such as the cockroaches and lizards in the house, and the unfamiliar food and way of using the bathroom.

Meanwhile, a crisis is brewing in the house. Aruna's aunt Vandana, a 21-year-old college student, has started a hunger strike because she does not want to have an arranged marriage, and she wants to go to graduate school. Aruna is in awe of Vandana's willpower and courage to do what she wants. Aruna feels she would never have the courage to stand up to her parents like that.

Aruna and her cousins visit the Science and Technology museum in Bangalore, where Aruna is fascinated by the rock and mineral specimens. She confesses that she wants to be a geologist when she grows up. But she is told that the only thing a geologist can do is be a miner, and Aruna does not want to be a miner.

Aruna's other aunt, Vandana's sister Sharmila, is preparing for her wedding. Just before the wedding, Vandana gives up her hunger strike because her parents have agreed that she does not need to get married yet, and she can go to graduate school. Everyone goes to the wedding.

By the time Aruna leaves India, she has some new Indian clothes and she is determined to make a good impression in 7th grade. But her first day of 7th grade doesn't turn out quite as she'd hoped. Amber and Emily make fun of her new Indian blouse. And there's another Indian girl, Leena, at Aruna's bus stop! Aruna vows never to wear her Indian clothes again, and she tries to avoid speaking to Leena. She also decides to throw away her rock collection. She writes a letter to her aunt Vandana, pouring out her frustrations.

Vandana writes back, encouraging Aruna to ignore the girls who make fun of her, to keep her rock collection, and to explore other careers that a geologist can do. Aruna takes the advice to heart, and the next day she wears a new Indian skirt and blouse outfit. She also makes it a point to be friendly to Leena, and she brings some of her rocks to school to show Darcy.

At the end of the day she realizes that she's glad she stayed true to herself. She even feels she is developing the courage she so admires in Vandana.

Lesson 1 - Chapters 1-4

Questions Discussion Items

Activities

Lesson 2 - Chapters 5-7

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Activities

Lesson 3 - Chapters 8-10

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Lesson 4 - Chapters 11-13

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Lesson 5 -- Chapters 14-15

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Lesson 6 -- Chapters 16-18

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Study Guide to The Moon Over Crete, by Jyotsna Sreenivasan

This study guide for The Moon Over Crete is designed to be used by teachers and/or parents, to help children better understand the themes of the book.

Each of the six lessons is divided into three parts. The Questions section simply makes sure the children have read the chapters and understand the story line. The Discussion Items section gives suggestions for topics to talk about with the class. Often there are no right or wrong answers in this section - rather, children are encouraged to listen to each others' ideas and react to them. The Activities section has suggestions for assignments that students can do on their own. These are mostly writing activities, but drawing, interviewing, and library research are included too.

During the class the students can also share their written and drawing activities with their classmates, and perhaps help each other with revisions.

I hope this study guide helps children develop their love of reading, as well as a curiosity and thoughtfulness about the world around them.

Synopsis of The Moon Over Crete

The Moon Over Crete is a time-travel adventure novel with a theme of gender equality, for grades 4-7.

Eleven-year-old Lily runs home from school in tears because a boy has been harassing her: he has been shoving pictures of naked women at her and calling her names. He won't stop even when she asks him to, and her mother's calls to the principal have not helped. Lily feels being a girl is a drag.

She is gloomy as she goes to her flute lesson the next day. Her flute teacher, Mrs. Zinn, tells her about a time when girls were respected. It was 3,500 years ago, in ancient Crete, at a time when women and men were equal In fact, Mrs. Zinn has been to ancient Crete herself -- she is a time-traveler.

Lily begs Mrs. Zinn to take her back to ancient Crete. Mrs. Zinn agrees, and Lily's adventure begins. In ancient Crete, she gets lost in the palace and is led back to Mrs. Zinn by the Queen herself. She learns pottery with her new friend Mashi. And she goes to a full-moon dance.

But all is not fun and games. Lily knows something that her new Cretan friends do not: that this egalitarian culture will soon be destroyed and replaced by one that does not respect women and girls. Lily is determined to tell the Queen what she knows, and save Crete and her friends.

She works hard to learn the Cretan language. In the meantime, Mrs. Zinn suddenly disappears -- she has gone to the secret old women's ceremony -- and Lily has to cope without her for a while. But before she can put her plan into action, Mrs. Zinn re-appears and tells Lily that they are leaving for home -- the very next day!

Lily knows she can't leave until she gives the Queen her message. She decides to stay behind in Crete, without Mrs. Zinn. She's not sure how to tell the Queen what she knows without revealing the secret that she is a time-traveler -- something that Mrs. Zinn does not want her to tell anyone.

One morning, Lily wakes up screaming from a bad dream. Inasha, Mashi's mother, runs in to find out what's wrong, and Lily relates her dream: a giant black ship arrived in Crete and destroyed everything. Inasha is alarmed and takes Lily to see the Queen. But before they get to the palace, Lily learns that Inasha has already heard warnings about Crete's destruction!

Lily is shaking from nervousness as she stands before the Queen. After all, she had just made up the story about her dream. She didn't really have a dream like that. What will the Queen say? Will the Queen realize she is lying?

But the Queen is very kind and gentle. She knows that Lily has come from a long way away, and she tells Lily to go back home. The Queen can foretell the future, and she sees that Lily will help women and men work together again at home.

Lily is so inspired by the Queen's words that she agrees to go back home.

Lesson 1 -- Chapters 1-2

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Lesson 2 -- Chapters 3-5

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Lesson 3 -- Chapters 6-9

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Lesson 4 -- Chapters 10-13

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Lesson 5 -- Chapters 14-17

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Lesson 6 -- Chapters 18-22, Afterword

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These study guides were written by Jyotsna Sreenivasan -- jyotsna64@aol.com, to whom you can send questions, comments, suggestions, etc.

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