Developing Resilience: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

Lesson 1


Unit 1

6th Grade

Lesson 1 of 32


Describe how author Christopher Paul Curtis establishes setting in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963.

Readings and Materials

  • Book: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis  pp. 1 – 7 — Chapter 1, end at "...cold can kill you!"

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Target Task

Writing Prompt

How does Momma and Dad's discussion of Birmingham (and the American South more generally) help to establish the setting of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963?

Sample Response

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Key Questions

Close Read Questions

  • How does Christopher Paul Curtis use figurative language to develop the reader’s understanding of the setting on page 1? Provide specific evidence from this page and explain how it establishes the setting.

  • How does Christopher Paul Curtis use slang/colloquial language to establish setting in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963? Provide specific evidence from the text to support your answer.

Discussion Questions

  • What have we learned about each member of the Watson family in today’s reading? What have we learned about their relationships to one another?

Exit Ticket

Assess student understanding and monitor progress toward this lesson's objective with an Exit Ticket.



colloquial language


informal, everyday speech, which may include non-standard grammatical structures, slang, and idiomatic expressions. 

figurative language


language that goes beyond the literal meaning of words and phrases and is used with the intention of creating an image, feeling, or deeper understanding for the reader.


To ensure that students are prepared for the next lesson, have students complete the following reading for homework. Use guidance from the next lesson to identify any additional language or background support students may need while independently engaging with the text.

  • Book: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis  pp. 7 – 19 — Start at "I didn't hear any sound"

While reading, answer the following questions.

  • How do Byron and his friends treat Kenny? Give an example.

  • How would you describe Kenny’s relationship with Byron? Why?

  • On pages 11 -12, what happens to Byron? How does Kenny respond?

  • How does the family respond to Byron’s predicament? Why?

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Common Core Standards

  • RL.6.3 — Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
  • RL.6.6 — Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

Supporting Standards


Lesson 2

Lesson Map


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