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Sounder

Sounder by William Armstrong, is a story of tenacity and growing up in a black sharecropper’s family. The activities below will work well with a reading or literature unit of this book.

Book Summary:

Sounder is a compelling story. It’s about a boy and his trials and tribulations growing up in a poor and black sharecropper’s family. The story has courage, human dignity and love as its themes. Sounder is the name of the family dog.

About the Author:

William Armstrong was born in 1914 in Virginia. As an adult he married and had three children and lived in Connecticut in house that he built on Kimadee Hill. He lived to be 85 and died in 1999. The story Sounder came from remembered stories told to him by an African American man when he was young.

Suggested Vocabulary:

cabin
foothills
kernels
quarry
possum
preacher
sharecropper
straw tick


Questions and Activities:

1. In what period of history do you think this story takes place? Why? Give back up information to support your answer.

2. In the author’s not at the beginning of the book, the author discusses the origin of the story. Do you believe Sounder is a true story or a make-believe story. Why?

3. Research the kind of dog that Sounder is. What would his approximate size be, what he would eat, and other characteristics of the coon dog. Draw a picture of what you think Sounder looks like.

4. Research what it meant to be a sharecropper family … and/or what it meant to be poor and black during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

5. Are there families in your country that are still living a lifestyle similar to that of the boy’s family? If so, give examples.

6. How did you feel at the end of the story? What happened in the story that made you feel this way?

7. Describe what you think the boy's adult life may be like.






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