1. Music – Music would seem the most obvious opportunity to further explore in Bud, Not Buddy. Most elementary school children are not familiar with the history of jazz, but it was the most popular American music in the 1930s. America was bursting with big bands and depression era America longed to be entertained. And so they danced. It would not be hard to explain and then show elementary school children that the big band music of the 1930s was the rock’n’roll of its time. Play some of the music. Let them research some of the famous artists, bands, and songs. I’ve never seen children not thrill and long to dance at a wedding when they hear classics from the 1930s like “In the Mood.” I’d recommend, especially, the jump music of Count Basie as representative of a bouncy, thrilling, touring, largely African-American band.
2. Bud’s Rules – Bud’s “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself” are a load of fun and present a wonderful opportunity. Make a list of them. Post it in classrooms or the hallway or the office. Ask children if they can think of their own examples of the truth of any of the Rules. Better – ask children to make their own list of rules. Have them think about what they know about grown-ups, adults, parents, grand-parents, teachers – and if and when they can tell that adults want them to do something or are trying to butter them up – and have them write their own Rules. Could be very interesting – funny – illuminating.
6. a Sweet Pea banquet – Exploiting the food in a novel has become a popular way to celebrate your book a the end of the month of reading. Bud’s African-American, Depression-era food is redolent throughout Bud, Not Buddy. (Adults seem to recognize that the way to get Bud to open up and tell the truth is to feed him.) Make a list of all the food referenced by Bud – from the first boloney sandwich w/ red pop to the final piece of warm, sweat potato pie topped w/ homemade whip cream – and have a banquet. Serve as much of the food from the book as you can. Ask parents to help. Such a banquet will bring the food and the mood and the tastes and smells of Bud, Not Buddy to life.