"The Watsons Go to Birmingham" by Christopher Paul Curtis, Chapters 1-3

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 1-3, Chapters 4-7, Chapters 8-11, Chapters 12-Epilogue

Here are links to our lists for other books by Christopher Paul Curtis: Bud, Not Buddy, Elijah of Buxton, The Journey of Little Charlie

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  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. forecast
    predict in advance
    Then the guy on TV said, “Here’s a little something we can use to brighten our spirits and give us some hope for the future: The temperature in Atlanta, Georgia, is forecast to reach...” Dad coughed real loud and jumped off the couch to turn the TV off but we all heard the weatherman say, "...the mid-seventies!”
  4. respectable
    characterized by conventionally acceptable morals
    And he was a respectable boy too, he wasn’t a clown at all.
  5. encourage
    spur on
    Laughing only encouraged Dad to cut up more, so when he saw the whole family thinking he was funny he really started putting on a show.
  6. propose
    ask (someone) to marry you
    “Yup, Hambone Henderson proposed to your mother around the same time I did."
  7. interrupt
    interfere in someone else's activity
    “Oh yeah,” Dad interrupted, “they’re a laugh a minute down there."
  8. pout
    be in a huff and display one's displeasure
    I could tell by the way he was pouting that Byron was going to try and get out of doing his share of the work.
  9. flunk
    fail to get a passing grade
    Byron caught his breath and said, “Aww, man, you flunked!"
  10. ignore
    refuse to acknowledge
    I kept on chopping ice off the back window and ignored By’s mumbling voice.
  11. hilarious
    marked by boisterous merriment or convulsive laughter
    Dad thought that was hilarious and put his head back on his arms.
  12. relative
    a person connected by blood or marriage
    Having the school’s god as my relative helped in some other ways too.
  13. 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.”
  14. aware
    having or showing knowledge or understanding or realization
    I want you to carefully note how advanced this second-grade student is, and I particularly want you to be aware of the effect his skills have upon you.
  15. recognize
    be fully aware of
    I guess I was too nervous about Mr. Alums to have recognized the voice before, but as soon as I walked into the room I froze.
  16. incapable
    lacking ability
    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.
  17. 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."
  18. compare
    examine and note the similarities or differences of
    I still got called Egghead or Poindexter or Professor some of the time but that wasn’t bad compared to what could have happened.
  19. 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."
  20. bother
    disturb, especially by minor irritations
    Then he had to add, “Y’all just sit next to Poindexter, he don’t bother no one.”
  21. 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.
  22. 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."
  23. grave
    a place for the burial of a corpse
    Maybe it was because we had such a great war going on and I was kind of nervous about who’d win, but this stupid stuff made sense, so instead of digging each one of the couple hundred dead dinosaurs a grave we dug one giant hole and buried all the radioactive ones in it, then we put a big rock on top so no radioactivity could leak out.
  24. excuse
    a defense of some offensive behavior
    But I was just making excuses to myself for being so stupid.
  25. appreciate
    recognize with gratitude; be grateful for
    I guess I should have told Momma that I really appreciated her helping me get my friend back but I didn’t have to.

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