The Best Man – Culturally Diverse Book

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Readers Response Blog 3

Peck, R. (2017) The Best Man. New York, NY. Puffin Books

Grades 4-6

I enjoyed reading “The Best Man,” and was happily surprised by the humor. This book was written in such a way that made you believe that these were kids. When Archer and Lynette are about to go into first grade, they are the ring bearers in a wedding, and they are not necessarily pleased with the idea, nor the outfits they are required to wear. This brought me back to my own experience at a wedding, where my brother (kindergarten at the time) thought he was going to get to wear a bear costume (as the ring bearer). I loved the way Peck address social issues in the book as well. This is a story about growing up, as Archer goes from an unaware 1st grader to a pretty insightful 6th grader you see him interacting with the role models in his life, asking questions when he doesn’t understand things, but also having a safe space to share his opinions.

This book addresses ideas surrounding bullying, LGBTQ, marriage, family, school from the perspective of a young boy. I thought this book did a great job of addressing these ideas without making them too advanced for the age group. I could see a group of 5th or 6th graders reading this book and being able to relate to it. And it would open up a great discussion for many of these issues. We see Archer throughout the book adapting to the changes in his life. We all go through changes throughout our life, and how we adapt is a big part of our personality and our experiences. We could ask students questions like: “How do we learn from and adapt to changes in our lives?” “How can others support us in our discoveries?” “How do you feel when you learn something new?”

For a lesson I think discussing how we adapt to changes, whatever they may be, would allow for an insightful discussion with students. We can connect how we adapt to changes and look for clues in the story about how Archer changes.

Lesson Sketch:

After reading “The Best Man” by Richard Peck, discuss with students about adapting to changes in our lives. Point out how Archer says “I can’t turn on a dime. But I’ll get there.” (231) Discuss different role models that may have helped you to learn and grow. Other questions to further discussion “How do you feel when you are asked to learn something new?” “How do you feel when you are faced with challenges?” “How do you react?” “Whom do you lean on?” After discussion, break up into small groups and using “The Best Man” to find examples of moments when Archer faces challenges that require him to adapt. Match the person who gives Archer advice or helps Archer with this challenge. Write down one quote from the book from characters that gave Archer advice. After each group is finished come back together to share one example each group found. End with a discussion on how students would react if they experienced some of Archer’s challenges.

Objective: In small groups, students will use “The Best Man” to find 3 challenges Archers faces in the story and connect it to the role model that helps him with that challenge.

Standards for 6th Grade:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Links:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-best-man

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Novel-Guide-for-The-Best-Man-by-Richard-Peck-3136552

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