86 pages 2 hours read

Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2015

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Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

What, according to you, is intelligence? Could there be different kinds of intelligence? Is it possible for an intelligent person to still find it difficult to learn things in school? How do you think someone who struggles with learning may feel? How would they behave?

Teaching Suggestion: Fish in a Tree is narrated by Ally Nickerson, a highly intelligent middle-school student who struggles in school. Until Mr. Daniels, her new teacher, accurately perceives the true cause of Ally’s struggle, she is often labelled as lazy and even “stupid” by her peers. Beginning a conversation with students about how intelligence and academic performance are not always related could be a good starting point to contextualize Ally’s situation. Asking students to reflect on how learning differences can impact a student’s behavior and self-esteem may prime them to notice these patterns with Ally. It can also be a starting point to introduce the concept of learning disabilities, and specifically dyslexia, which Ally is later diagnosed with.

  • This animated video by the British Dyslexia Association gives a succinct explanation of the condition.