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When Winter Robeson Came

When Winter Robeson Came

To figure out what happened to his missing father, thirteen-year-old Winter travels to Los Angeles from Mississippi to visit his cousin Eden and her family during the summer of the Watts Riots in 1965.
When Winter Robeson Came

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Talk with students about what genre means, how it helps them choose books, and what readers are looking for from specific genres. Draw a chart that includes a variety of genres your students have access to and offer definitions of each one. Ask if they can identify a genre for When Winter Robeson Came. Given that When Winter Robeson Came is a cross-genre novel, blending poetry, mystery, and historical fiction, ask students where it should go on your chart and where they would expect to find it in the library or bookstore shelves.

Have students think about their favorite books and the genres of those books. Ask them to choose one title and explain the characteristics of the book that categorizes it into a specific genre. As they each share their title and reasoning with the class, add the titles to your genre chart. Give students more sorting practice by putting them in small groups and giving each a stack of books to analyze and identify for genre. Have them present their evidence as you add additional titles to your chart.

Then return to When Winter Robeson Came. Have students share what appealed most to them about the book—the history, the mystery, or that it was written in verse. Help students discover a new book based on their genre preference of historical fiction, mystery, or poetry that shares a theme with When Winter Robeson Came. After students have read their new title, have them write a short essay comparing and contrasting the titles.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. Why is Eden excited about Winter’s visit? What does Winter like about California? What differences from Mississippi does he note?
  2. Why do you think Winter created “Winter Robeson’s Lifetime List of Things to Do”? What does he add to his list while he’s in California? What’s on Eden’s list? Why is she hesitant about doing what’s on her list? What’s on your list?
  3. What is rioting? Do you think it can be an effective means to advocate for change? What recent protests, riots, or other political uprisings are you aware of? What do you think they have in common with the Watts Rebellion of 1965?
  4. Winter is determined to find out what happened to his father. What do Eden and Winter do to try and locate J.T.? Why do you think they were successful when the police were not?

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