The Watsons Go to Birmingham: Chapters 1–5

When the Watson family pays Grandma a visit in Alabama, they find themselves caught up in the battle for civil rights.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–5, Chapters 6–10, Chapter 11–Epilogue
25 words 23,058 learners

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Full list of words from this list:

  1. generate
    produce, as energy
    Dad said this would generate a little heat but he didn’t have to tell us this, it seemed like the cold automatically made us want to get together and huddle up.
  2. delinquent
    a young offender
    Byron had just turned thirteen so he was officially a teenage juvenile delinquent and didn’t think it was “cool” to touch anybody or let anyone touch him, even if it meant he froze to death.
  3. respectable
    deserving of esteem
    And he was a respectable boy too, he wasn’t a clown at all.
  4. imitate
    reproduce someone's behavior or looks
    Dad started talking Southern-style, imitating this Hambone guy.
  5. slew
    a large number or amount or extent
    Ain’t got nothing against ’em, but don’t believe you’d be too happy living ’mongst a whole slew of Chinese folks. Don’t believe you’d like the food.
  6. hack
    chop or cut away
    I went over to the Brown Bomber’s passenger side and started hacking away at the scab of ice that was all over the windows.
  7. numb
    lacking sensation
    It was a good thing my face was numb from the cold already or I might have froze to death.
  8. stagger
    walk with great difficulty
    “Oh my Lord!” Momma screamed, and I thought she was going to do one of those movie-style faints, she even put her hand over her forehead and staggered back a little bit.
  9. blubber
    cry or whine with snuffling
    Joey blubbered out, “This is just like that horrible story Kenny read me about that guy Nar-sissy who stared at himself so long he forgot to eat and starved to death. Mommy, please save him!”
  10. hostile
    characterized by enmity or ill will
    I’ve often told you that as Negroes the world is many times a hostile place for us.
  11. vital
    urgently needed; absolutely necessary
    I’ve pointed out time and time again how vital it is that one be able to read well.
  12. stress
    single out as important
    I’ve stressed on numerous occasions the importance of being familiar and comfortable with literature.
  13. incapable
    not having the temperament or inclination for
    And Byron Watson, if you are incapable of taking some of the fire out of your eyes I assure you I will find a way to assist you.
  14. emulate
    strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
    If, instead of trying to intimidate your young brother, you would emulate him and use that mind of yours, perhaps you’d find things much easier.
  15. punctual
    acting or arriving exactly at the time appointed
    Every other time someone was late he’d just laugh at them and tell the rest of us, “This is the only way you little punks is gonna learn to be punctual. I hope that fool has a pleasant walk to school.”
  16. jabber
    talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
    This guy was real desperate for a friend because even though I wouldn’t say much back to him he kept jabbering away at me all through class.
  17. satisfied
    filled with contentment
    But LJ wasn’t satisfied with doing one or two, I guess he wanted a raise, so one day he said to me, “You know, we should stop having these little fights all the time. We need to have one great big battle!”
  18. reinforcement
    additional support for an existing military operation
    We had a great big pile of dead dinosaurs off to the side and had to keep shaking more and more reinforcements out of the pillowcase.
  19. pomade
    hairdressing consisting of a perfumed oil or ointment
    When that last scarf came off there was always a real nice smell, like Joey was a little oven and inside all these clothes she’d baked up her own special perfume, with the smell of shampoo and soap and the pomade Momma put in her hair.
  20. skimpy
    containing little excess
    You’d have to be pretty tough to stand around giving people Maytags on a day as cold as this with those skimpy clothes on!
  21. carp
    any of various freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae
    The Great Carp Escape was about a carp that was trying to get out of a net in the Flint River.
  22. fishy
    creating feelings of suspicion or doubt
    The whole upstairs smelled like a giant match and she knew something was fishy even before she got to the top step.
  23. huddle
    crouch or curl up
    They danced into the living room and Joey started looking nervous. She ran over and huddled up next to me.
  24. influence
    the effect of one thing or person on another
    It was hard to do, but I kind of felt sorry for Byron, though not too sorry because I knew he deserved whatever happened, first because he had a chance to escape and didn’t take it and second because he was being a bad influence on me.
  25. traitor
    a person who says one thing and does another
    Joey climbed off Momma’s lap and Byron’s eyes got bigger and bigger but his traitor hands kept him pinned to the couch.
Created on June 20, 2013 (updated June 13, 2022)

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