Today’s installment of Family Reading Selections features Newberry Award-winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. The book tells the story of Kit Tyler, a teenage heroine in seventeenth-century colonial New England. Kit, a native of Barbados, is suddenly thrust into Puritan Connecticut when she is sent to live in the small town of Wethersfield with her aunt and uncle. She finds leading a very different life in Connecticut than she had in Barbados and feels very alone amongst the conservative community. She soon befriends Hannah Tupper, an elderly woman on the outskirts of the community reputed to be a witch. While this friendship brings joy to Kit’s life, it also distances her even more from her neighbors and the community that she has tried to find a place in. Elizabeth George Speare brings to life a heroine who is smart, spirited, and kind but who struggles to find her place in her community, like so many of her young readers.
– Why do you think that the people of Wethersfield were afraid of Hannah and Kit? Do you think that this influenced their interpretation of Kit and Hannah’s actions?
– How is the theme of kindness addressed in The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Which characters do you think showed kindness?
– What different traditions or behaviors have you seen in your community? How can you help people from different cultures feel accepted in your community?
– How are characters in the novel bound by duty? Do their own wishes contradict the duty they feel towards the community? Which do you think is more important?
Share this beloved classic as a family this holiday season.