I was assigned to read Old Yeller in 6th grade. For whatever reason, 6th grade was full of the tragedy books. I read about a childhood best friend dying, a dog dying, and watching someone you love grow old and die. Now that I think about it, that is a traumatizing year of assigned reading. For whatever reason, I liked Old Yeller, even if it made me cry. I even read the sequel, which is pretty much the same story but with the younger brother. So, I planned to never have an Old Yeller book club, but my son picked it for one of his summer books a few years ago, which led to this book and a movie post.
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When Travis’ father sets out on a cattle drive, he is left as the man of the house at 14 years old. While his father is gone, he adopts an old yellow dog that he calls Old Yeller. Over the summer, he and the dog bond, but tragedy strikes when Old Yeller is bit by a rabid animal and Travis is forced to make a hard decision.
Now, I don’t know if there are any other adaptations, but the one I know if is the Disney Old Yeller adaptation, which mostly sticks to the plot, but changes it ever so slightly in an annoying way. It actually takes away from the growing up Travis has done over the summer.
Old Yeller book club
Since this was a summer book club, we didn’t use any sort of literature guide.
Instead, I sat down with the boy over lunch and talked about it. We talked bout how Travis had to grow up and be the man in the house, we compared it to Sign of the Beaver, which is another coming of age story where a young man has to be the man of the house. We talked about sacrifice, and how sometimes you have to make hard decisions, which we really don’t want to make.
Like I said, our Old Yeller book club was pretty low key, but here are some other people who turned it into a more formal book club.
Old Yeller book club snacks
Our snacks were pretty straight forward, but the kids all loved them.
- wild bears- giant teddy grahams
- wild animals- animal crackers
- rabid foam- sprite with sherbert
- hunting rifle- pretzel sticks
- bullets- plain M&Ms, though I would have used Whoppers
- Ol’ Yeller- sugar cookie dog cookie cutter, or we could have done the shortbread dog cookies
- dog snacks- Scooby snacks
- Sunday dinner- it was going to be fried chicken, because that seems to be a Southern tradition, but we never did it
- fish- goldfish, but we got the graham cracker flavor which I didn’t like all that much
Natalie PlanetSmarty says
Interesting! I’ve never even heard about this book! A read a lot of historical fiction for school in 6th grade.
This is such a tearjerker book.