Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare


Book Summary

Matt stays to hold his family's new log cabin in the wilderness, while Matt's father is away to escort his mother, sister, and new baby.  After an accidental injury, Matt encounters a Native American tribe that challenges his ideas about pride, knowledge, and civilized living.

The Sign of the Beaver book cover
The Sign of the Beaver

Book Review

It is easy to relate to Matt's hopes and concerns, to admire the resourcefulness of the characters, and understand why their opinions of each other change over the course of the story. The book is rich with potential discussion topics, but it is accessible enough to recommend to individual students as an independent reading option.

Some writers have criticized this book for being inauthentic and dismissive of the First Nations people, so it's worth examining those critiques in conjunction with the story.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Outdoor Survival Skills
  • Pre-conceived Ideas about others
  • European Settler Expansion into Native American Territory
  • Social Systems
  • Environmental Awareness

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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