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Original Curriculum Content Sample

Reading Guide Content for
“When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” by Jhumpa Lahiri


I designed these prompts to guide my heterogeneously-grouped 8th-grade Language Arts students through a first reading of the short story. 


It's well documented that journaling and free-writing prompts help students connect prior knowledge and experience to new text.  readers also benefit from reviewing vocabulary.


During reading, routines like making observations and practicing annotation are central to a first encounter with a text.


The content is flexible enough for me to make a variety of products and experiences for students based on their needs: I have designed a presentation slide deck, a series of journal prompts for Notability (or a paper journal), and small group work  meeting notes based on this raw content.




Before You Read


Free-write:  Think about a time when you realized that the adults around you seemed to be “stressed out.”  How did you know?  Were you able to talk about it with them?  Write an entry in your journal that explores these prompts.


Unlocking Vocabulary:  If you know a word well, supply your own definition.  If you are not sure of its meaning, use the dictionary to help you. Next to each word is the page number and the form of the word used on that page. You can use these clues to learn more about the context and usage of the words.


Compatriots (24) n


Partition (25) proper n


Austere (25) adj


Sovereignty (26) n


Coveted (29) v


As You Read: Interacting with the text

With a pencil, write questions to the characters in the margins, as though you were a distant friend. For example, after we read the first sentence, we might write the question to Mr. Pirzada, “Why do you bring candy everywhere you go?” 



After You Read: Revisiting moments and gathering ideas for class discussion

1. Why do Lilia’s parents “search” for “compatriots” (24) each fall?  Find and highlight a passage that might help us understand their need to reach out to others.

2. Lilia’s father frets that she does not know much about Partition (26-7). Later, the teacher tells her to put the book about Pakistan away (33). Find and highlight one more example of a moment when adults’ perspectives on history affect Lilia’s thoughts and emotions. 

3. Lilia “covets” the candy Mr. Pirzada gives her (29). Why is this gift so special to her? Find a passage to support your idea.

4. Look back at your free-write, then think about the tension Lilia feels between wanting to help Mr. Pirzada and feeling like she’s unable to help him. Pretend you are Lilia’s friend and comfort her.

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