Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


Written by Susan Beth Pfeffer

(2006) New York, New York

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co.

In Life As We Knew It Miranda Evans is a normal 16 year-old girl. She lives with her mother and her brother Jonny, and has an older brother Matt who is in college. Her parents are divorced and her father is remarried to a woman named Lisa. Miranda documents her daily life in her diary. Everything was fine until one night when an asteroid hit the moon. Before anyone knew what to expect, tides were thrown off, tsunamis and earthquakes devastated millions of lives around the world, and volcanoes spewed ash into the sky, blocking out the sun. Food became scarce and people around the world started to die off. Suddenly, Miranda’s life was not so normal anymore. The story documents her struggle for survival and the difficulties she and her family endured.

Phrases to describe this book: science fiction, diary, post-apocalyptic, struggle, desperation

Lexile Score: 770L

ATOS Book Measure: 4.7

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Suggested Delivery: Small group read or independent read

Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: Show students the book trailer from the “Additional Resources” section. Have a discussion about how the moon affects the earth to build schema before reading the book.

During Reading: Have students use the Double-Entry Journals technique described here. Students can write in phrases or quotes that stand out to them and write their own reactions to the text to help improve their comprehension of the text.

After Reading: Have students use the QTA (Question the Author) technique after reading. Why did the author write the things or way she did? What do you think she was trying to get across? (Students can use the sections from the Double-Entry Journals for this activity). This will help the students better understand what the author was trying to say and improve their overall comprehension.

Writing Activity: Have students write a diary entry from one month after the asteroid hit the moon as if they were living in the world the book is set in. Describe any significant changes in the world, and how people are reacting, as well as the difficulties they are encountering and how they would react. Use details from the story to support the writing.

Additional Resources:

Check out this teaching guide from Scholastic for discussion questions, lesson extension activities, a short summary, and more!

Take a look at this book trailer that will get students excited about reading!

This webpage from provides some basic information about the moon, including how it controls the tides and affects earth. This might be useful information as your students are reading about the moon in this story.

Key Vocabulary:

  • Aerobic- pertaining to or caused by the presence of oxygen.
  • Asteroid- a small rock body that orbits the sun, usually in a region between Mars and Jupiter.
  • Desolate- deprived of inhabitants, deserted, lonely
  • Disconcerting- disturbing to one’s composure
  • Dormant- inactive, at rest
  • Famished- extremely hungry
  • Impact- the striking of one thing against another
  • Lunar- of or relating to the moon
  • Nourish- to sustain with food or nutriment, supply with what is necessary for life.

(All definitions obtained/modified from


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