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Going Home

Going Home: Summary

Christmas is coming and Carlos and his family are going home--driving south across the border to Mexico. But Mexico doesn't seem like home to Carlos, even though he and his sisters were born there. Can home be a place you don't really remember? At first, La Perla doesn't seem very different from the other villages they pass though. But then Carlos is swept up into the festivities by Grandfather, Aunt Ana, and the whole village. Finally, Carlos begins to understand Mama and Papa love for the place they left begin, and realizes that home can be anywhere because it stays in the hearts of the people who love you. 

Reading Skills:

prediction, inference, compare and contrast Vocabulary: border, opportunities, wise, lively, sacrifice


identity, journey, immigration, parent/child relationships

Possible Discussion Questions

Before Reading

  • The title of this books is Going Home. Based on the title and cover illustrations, what do you predict this book will be about?
  • Look carefully at the illustrations on the cover of the book. Do these images look familiar to you? What do you think these images can tell us about the character, setting, or plot of the story?
  • This book is written by Eve Bunting. Do we know any other stories by this author? What do we know about the kind of stories Eve Bunting writes? (The Wall, Fly Away Home, Smokey Night, One Green Apple)
  • The dedication of the book reads "For Ed, who brought me to the place of opportunities." Why do you think Ms. Bunting means? What could a "place of opportunities" be?

During Reading

  • Mama says "Home is here, but it is there too." Carlos isn't so sure. He says Mexico isn't their home, but they were born there. Have you ever felt like you have two homes? Do you believe you can have two homes?
  • What are Mama and Papa thinking as they cross the border into Mexico? What makes you think this? Use details from the text to support you thinking.
  • Papa tells Carlos the he and Mama left Mexico so they could give the children "great opportunities." What do you think he means by this? Have you ever heard anyone else say this?
  • In the story Carlos says, "Dolores is very grown-up and cool, and Mama worries about her." Why does this make Mama worry?
  • After 4 days of traveling the family finally pulls up to La Perla. What are the children feeling as they pull into the village? Mama and Papa?
  • Carlos sees the oxen and plow Mama and Papa bought for Grandpa. Why do you think they bought these things for him? Do you know any other families that help in this way?
  • Mama says, "We were wise, but it was hard. It still is hard. " Carlos says he is beginning to understand his mother. What do you think he is beginning to understand?
  • Dolores tells Carlos that Mama and Papa are saving money so they can one day return home to La Perla. Why does this comfort Carlos?

After Reading

  • The title of the book is Going Home. Who in this story was "going home." Do you agree with that home can be two places?
  • At first the village of La Perla didn't seem that special to Carlos and his sisters. Do you think the felt the same way at the end of the story? Why or why not?
  • Mama and Papa talked a lot about opportunities. What opportunities do you think Carlos and his sisters will have in the USA that they could not have in La Perla?
  • Parents sacrifice a lot for their children. What sacrifices did Mama and Papa make for Carlos and his sisters? What sacrifices do you think your parents have made for you?

Possible Response Activities

  • Have students or pairs of students choose two characters from the story, one from La Perla and one from California. Have individual students or partnerships imagine it was 4-5 months since the family's visit to La Perla and send each other post cards. Remind students that post cards writers usually share 2-3 details from their life and should include questions for the reader.
  • Have students create entries from Carlos' travel diary. Individually, in pairs, or groups students should receive a scene or illustration from the book and create a entry for the diary based on what is happening in the story and how they think Carlos is feeling. In the end all the entries can be put together and shared.

Writing Activities

  • Where I Am From Poems. This text is perfect to introduce Where I am From Poems. Students could first try to write a Where I am From Poem from Carlos or another character's perspective, drawing on details and inferences from the texts. Next they could try writing their own poems. Students could also make self-portraits that accompany the poems and incorporate topics they spoke about in their poems. See below for templates and examples of students work.

Additional Resources

Printable Version

Student Samples

Videos Book Read Aloud


Going Home from Susan Gebhard on Vimeo.