Vermont Reads 2019

March: Book One

Leading a Book Discussion

Ideas for a Dynamic Discussion

  • Use a facilitator, preferably someone who loves literature, has experience leading discussions, and has taken the time to read and research the book carefully. They should be prepared with a list of stimulating questions (the above list is a good start) and should try to include everyone in the conversation. They should also provide a brief biography of the author. Consult with VHC for trained discussion facilitators in your area. Refer to biographical information about the authors.
  • Make every attempt to seat people in a circle. If the group is too large for this configuration, ask people to speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can hear, or, as appropriate, ask them to stand and face the group when talking.
  • Don’t forget the introductions! Be creative — in addition to stating their names, people might briefly share their general impressions of the book, their reason for attending, or something about the book for discussion.
  • Discussion facilitators should end the discussion with some kind of “closer.” One example is asking everyone (or, if the group is large, volunteers) to share a final thought about the book or the experience they’ve just had discussing it. Or ask volunteers to read their favorite sentence or paragraph from the book.
  • Serve refreshments!

Key Words

It helps to be clear and agree about definitions when discussing a book. Discuss and define these words together before reading March: Book One, and be mindful of their meanings as they come up in the book. 

  • Boycott
  • Civil disobedience
  • “Colored”
  • Constitution
  • Democracy
  • Desegregation
  • Eradicate
  • Inauguration
  • Liberated
  • Moratorium
  • Movement
  • Philosophy
  • Protest
  • Racism
  • Resistance
  • Sermonizing
  • Sit-in
  • Unlawful assembly

Discussion Questions

Adapted from the Anti-Defamation League Teacher’s Guide.

  1. What is the book about? What did you think about when you looked at the cover?
  2. Had you ever heard of John Lewis before reading the book? What do you know about him?
  3. What did you learn about John Lewis as you read the book? What can you tell about his character and personality by reading the book?
  4. What was John Lewis’ childhood like? How does his compare to your childhood up until now?
  5. Why was John Lewis so attached to the chickens on his parents’ farm as a child? What did the chickens symbolize? Do you have pets or care for animals?
  6. What was it like when John took his first trip north with his Uncle Otis to Buffalo? What happened on the trip and what new experiences did he have?
  7. When John arrives home after the trip to Buffalo, why does he say, “After that trip, home never felt the same, and neither did I?” Have you ever experienced a trip that changed the way you feel?
  8. What did John experience in Alabama in terms of segregation and inequality?
  9. How did John Lewis feel when he first heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio?
  10. What did you learn about the Montgomery Bus Boycott from John Lewis’ perspective?
  11. How did John’s parents feel about him wanting to attend Troy State College in order to desegregate it? Why do you believe they felt that way?
  12. How did the Civil Rights activists learn to use nonviolence? Do you think that was easy or difficult?
  13. Why do you think that nonviolence was such an important part of the Civil Rights Movement?
  14. How would you feel if you wanted to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter, and you weren’t allowed to because of your race or another aspect of your identity?
  15. What strategies did activists use to desegregate the lunch counters, and what happened in the end?
  16. Why do you think this story was told as a graphic novel? Do you like learning and reading from graphic novels? Why or why not?
  17. Why do you think scenes about the inauguration of President Barack Obama were included in the book?
  18. How did you feel when the book ended?
  19. This book is the first in a trilogy. What do you think might happen in March: Book Two?
  20. What do you want to learn about John Lewis and the Civil Rights Movement?

More Discussion Guides

For more teacher and discussion guides on March: Book One, visit: