Written by Alex Gino
(2015) New York, New York
George is living with a big secret-that is, George is a girl living in a boy’s body. George feels like she was born in the wrong body, but she can’t tell anyone; not even her mom or brother. When it comes time for the school play, George desperately wants to be cast as Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” but she is afraid of the backlash from her teachers, classmates, community, and family. Over the course of the story George learns to take risks, stand up for herself, and to be herself.
Phrases to describe this book: diverse, eye-opening, accepting, controversial topic
Lexile Measure: 790L
ATOS Book Level: 5.0
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Suggested Delivery: small group, group discussion
Before Reading: Use the Listen-Read-Discuss strategy to introduce this book to students, as outlined on Reading Rockets. Explain to students what it means to be transgender, and some of the difficulties transgender people may encounter. Then have students read a short section of the book where George talks about his feelings about being transgender. Have students discuss this idea, and allow them to ask questions to clarify. This will help students build schema before reading the book in order to better comprehend the text.
During Reading: For each chapter of the book, have students summarize the main events that they have read on a post-it note. By the end of the book, students will have a complilation of the most important details throughout the text, which will help them summarize the information. This will help improve comprehension by asking the students to understand what is being said in the chapter, and sort through important details and not-so-important details.
After Reading: Use the Question-Answer Relationship activity guide to enhance students’ understanding of the text. Students can refer to their post-it summary notes if needed. Some sample questions are:
- Right There Questions: Who is George’s best friend? What is the name of the character George wants to play in the school play?
- Think and Search Questions: Find 2 examples of support that George’s family gave him (either his brother or mom).
- Author and You: Why did the author write about George going to the zoo with Kelly and Kelly’s uncle?
- On My Own: How would you feel if you had to hide a big secret like George from your friends and family? What would you do?
Writing Activity: Have students imagine that the book is being turned into a play. Students will create a playbill for George’s performance in “Charlotte’s Web.” Have students draw a picture for each character and a “Who’s Who” description for each of the main characters, writing about why they are important (family members can be included in this section as well). Students should then write a short summary of the events in the ‘play’ to draw in potential viewers!
You can find an interview with Alex Gino here. This interview provides readers with a better understanding of who Alex Gino is and his motivations for writing George. This will help to gain more background knowledge to improve students’ comprehension.
This video was created by a young transgender girl named Jazz. In the video, she describes the challenges she has faced being transgender, her transition process, and how she became more confident with her gender identity. This video may help students to better understand what it’s like to be transgender. This can help improve their comprehension of the story, allowing them to see a real-life example of what George was going through in the book.
Hormone- chemicals in your body that affect certain organs
Melancholy– a gloomy state of mind
Solemn- serious, grave
(Definitions obtained/modified from Dictionary.com)