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The Borrowers – A Literature Unit

The Borrowers is the first in a series of books on a group of six-inch sized people. There is lots of imagination and adventure to be experienced with these books. This unit provides suggested vocabulary and activities to go with the first book, but is also a good lead-in for the other books.

Book Summary:

A family of “borrowers” lives in a quiet country house owned by Great-Aunt Sophy in England. They live under the floorboards. Their one great fear is of being seen by human beings. One day Arrietty, the borrowers’ daughter, meets a human being boy who is visiting Great-Aunt Sophy and a unique friendship develops.

About the Author:

Mary Norton started out as an actress and traveled all over, including England, Portugal, New York, and the Azores. After having a family and settling down a bit, she began writing in 1947. The Borrowers stories she attributes to her vivid imagination as a child growing up in the countryside of Leighton Buzzard in England.

Suggested Vocabulary:

ancestors
astounded
deliberate
deny
dismayed
dusk
fortress
generation
passage
stealthily
tentatively
threshold
trench
ventilation


Suggested Questions and Activities:

1. Which character in the story did you like best? Explain your answer.

2. How did Arrietty feel about how her family lived?

3. What would you like and dislike about being a borrower? Give detailed answers.

4. If you were a borrower, what kind of things would you borrow and why?

5. Draw Pod, Homily, and Arrietty based on the description in the book.

6. Discuss the ending of The Borrowers. What kind of things does it leave you wondering about? Does it make you want to read the next book in the series?

7. What is the difference between borrowing and stealing? Which do you think the borrowers are really doing and why?

8. Watch the recent made-for-tv movies based on The Borrowers books. How does the movie differ from the books? Which do you like better? Explain your answer.

Other Books by Mary Norton:

The Borrowers Afield
The Borrowers Afloat
The Borrowers Aloft
The Borrowers Avenged
Bed-Knob and Broomstick
Poor Stainless
Are All the Giants Dead?

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