Reader’s Guide: When You Reach Me

when_you_reach_meWhen You Reach Me                              By: Rebecca Stead

Reader’s Guide created by: Lindsay Prodorutti, Danielle Rodino, Theresa Trageser and Mekenzie Voglino

Book Summary: The 2010 Newbery Medal winner is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

Twelve-year-old Miranda encounters shifting friendships, a sudden punch, a strange homeless man and mysterious notes that hint at knowledge of the future. These and other seemingly random events converge in a brilliantly constructed plot. (ALSC, 2010. 2010 Newbery Medal and Honor Books.

During the Reading

  1. Vocabulary: Find each of the following words in When You Reach Me. Then look up the definition.

obstruct (p. 1)_____________________________

nags (p. 2)________________________________

scoured (p. 9)______________________________

hunch (p. 23)______________________________

proposal (p. 44) ____________________________

assumption (p. 51)__________________________

despise (p.56)______________________________

perspective (p.69)___________________________

mimeographs (p.79)__________________________

oblivious (p. 102)____________________________

terse (p. 162)______________________________

2. BE A DETECTIVE: Part of Miranda’s mystery is the identity of this “you” to whom she is writing. Throughout your reading, keep track of what clues you find that might point you to the mysterious letter-writer’s identity. In the table below, list clues based on each note and their connection to Miranda. Support each prediction using context clues, information/past acts by one of the characters and/ or personal experiences you may have had. Have your predictions changed with each note? Stayed the same? Think about what caused you to change your predictions.

Prediction Support
The First Note
The Second Note
The Third Note
The Last Note
  1. Character Comparison:

Throughout When You Reach Me, Miranda learns that she has more in common with the people around her than she originally thought. Use the Venn Diagram below to compare and contrast two characters. Write their differences in the outer parts of the circles and similarities inside the part where the circles overlap.

Character Pairings:

Miranda & Julia

Marcus & Sal

Marcus & the Laughing Man

Sal & Colin

Miranda & Mom

Miranda & you, the reader



After Reading Activities:

  1. Themes: Look at the following list of themes. Choose 4 to write 2-3 sentences about describing what that theme means to you and how your interpretation relates to When You Reach Me.

Finding Clues, Fear, Social Class, Growing Up, Friendship, Family, Bullying (Themes adapted from Terrell’s 2009 Readers Guide)

A. ______________________________________________________________

B. ______________________________________________________________

C. ______________________________________________________________

D. ______________________________________________________________

  1. Throughout the story Miranda’s class had an ongoing assignment to create a scale model of a city block. A scale model is a representation of an object that is built either larger or smaller than the original. Create a scale model based on Miranda’s neighborhood, which is described in the book, or of your own neighborhood.
  2. We find out that the laughing man has come back in time to save Sal. Is there a moment in your life where you wish you could go back and change the outcome of the situation for the better? Explain.
  3. Miranda really loves science and science fiction especially time travel. If you could write a science fiction text what elements would you include? Think about something we have today but what will it be like in the future? Would your story take place on Earth or somewhere very different?
  4. Marcus and Julia explain to Miranda that time travel is like a diamond ring, and that “each moment–each diamond–is a snapshot.” (page 104). If you could travel to any “snapshot” in history, which snapshot would you choose and why? What “snapshot” of your own life history do you think a time traveler would find most interesting or indicative of the time in which you grew up?
  5. Genre Study–When You Reach Me has elements of multiple genres intertwined throughout the story. Which genres do you see represented and where? What genre would you classify this novel as, if you had to pick just one? Why?
  6. In the chapter “The Last Note”, on pages 157-162, Miranda writes a numbered list to show the events of that afternoon. Why do you think the author chose to write this chapter in list form? What impact does the list format have on you as a reader? Think of a similarly pivotal moment in your own life, when you witnessed or experienced something that changed your thinking or your worldview. Write your own list depicting that moment.


Terrell, Sarah Ward. “Reading Guide: When You Reach Me- Teacher’s Edition.” Junior

        Library Guild. Media Source, Inc. 2009. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.

“When You Reach Me Reader’s Guide.”

Random House Children’s Books. Feb. 2010. Web. 7 Mar. 2017

Unit 2 Group 4


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