Grade Levels: 3, 4, 5 and 6
LIBBY BLOOM is a humorous beginning chapter book that
keeps the reader smiling, even through the serious parts.
Among the thought provoking themes students will
explore are family, friendship, activism and
self-confidence. This guide offers a variety of
Friendship -- Ask students to name the qualities they
look for in a friend (i.e. similar interests, willingness to
share, loyalty, a good listener, etc.) Afterward, have the
students find examples of where Libby and Ralph's
friendship have the same qualities they have listed.
Discuss this statement: In order to have a friend, you
must first be a friend.
Family -- Ask students to describe Libby's relationship
with her parents and sister. Does age difference affect the
sisters' relationship? How is her family similar to yours?
Different? How do her parents support Libby when she
gets "cold feet" after Mrs. Whippo invites her to the school
Self-confidence-- Have students discuss Libby's feelings
as she compares herself with her talented older sister,
Noel. Bring into the discussion the meaning of envy and
lack of self-confidence. How does Libby eventually
become more self-confident? Ask students what it says
about a person who other people call, "having a big head."
Help them to recognize that true self-confidence can only
be gained though effort -- when you are willing to work
hard toward a goal.
Math*-- The book begins with Libby singing off-key in the
school chorus. Ask students what range of singing voices
are in their chorus (i.e. soprano, alto). What does Libby
sing? Lead them to conclude that since Libby struggles to
sing the high part she is probably an alto.
Ask students to count the number of high range voices
and low range voices for both boys and girls in the school
chorus. Have them graph the results. Younger students
can construct a bar graph, while older students can
construct a pie graph using percentages.
Prediction: Have students predict how voice range
changes as they mature and find out what other singing
voices -- besides soprano and alto -- are in their local high
school chorus (tenor, bass). Make a graph, then compare
the two graphs.
Social Studies -- Mr. Cheney, the band teacher, shares
this advice: "The things in life that come hard, that really
challenge us, we end up valuing the most. Like learning to
play the tuba or working to make right what we believe is
wrong." When he writes an editorial on budget cuts for the
local paper, Libby is inspired to do something herself. She
turns her interest in cartoon drawing into her own political
Ask students what famous and not so famous people
they can name who have tried to "make right what they
believe is wrong," bringing into the discussion the term
"political activism" (i.e. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Susan B.
Anthony.) Can they name someone in their own
Language Arts -- Ask students to bring in the editorial
pages of their local newspaper. Have them choose an
article that they strongly agree/disagree with. Ask them to
write their own editorial response. Or, if they prefer, have
them write on another issue that they feel strongly about
(i.e. protecting the environment, use of animal fur, school
On page 4 after Libby burps, the boys "were rolling in their
chairs, guffawing." Explain that this is called figurative
speech. Have students make up their own sentences
describing a visual picture of an action that is not literal.
Music* -- Libby takes music lessons from Mr. Cheney,
the band instructor. Does their school offer individual
lessons as well?
To introduce the various instruments (brass, percussion,
woodwinds, etc.) invite the band instructor and/or band
members to your classroom. Or make arrangements to
take students on a field trip to a local high school during
their band practice session.
Only after Libby learns to blow though the mouthpiece
properly (purse her lips and buzz) can she begin to play
the tuba. By having students try various instruments they
can discover for themselves how difficult and perhaps
rewarding playing an instrument can be.
Science* -- On page 17 "a deep rumble echoed off the
pocked walls. It faded away leaving only the sound of
knocking and rattling from the boiler room across the
hall." Have students make a sound (a handclap, hitting a
drum, etc.) in different environments around the school
(i.e. cafeteria, gym, outdoors, classroom, closet.) Talk
about how sound waves travel.
Develop a musical scale: use bottles of the same size; fill
each with various amounts of water to construct the
Art -- Libby draws a political cartoon which she sends to
the local newspaper. Have students draw their own
political cartoons illustrating what they have said or say
on a new issue.
Ask how a political cartoon might be more powerful than
an article on a similar subject (i.e., a drawing is visual
with an immediate impact on the onlooker, whereas an
article must be read to the end.) What might be a
drawback (i.e., information is limited.)
Libby draws a cartoon character she calls Stretch
McKinsy. Have students create their own character and
produce a short comic strip (option: use computer
software utilizing clip art.)
Computer -- Have students research their social
studies/language arts projects at home/school through
Tell students that, like Libby, big things get done by
people making a difference in a variety of small ways.
Leave students with this thoughtful question: Where can
they make a difference?
*Suggestions submitted by Joan Masters, certified
teacher in N-6 Elementary and Special Education.
Copyright © 1999. All Rights Reserved
Visit Susan Rowan Masters' home page at