Appendix A: Discussion Questions

When I first undertook this project I thought that the best way to guide my book club discussions was to use reader’s guide/discussion questions from existing book clubs or academic websites to ensure a neutral ground, and I was wrong. Initially the questions proved to be useful because the group was not yet familiar with each other or with me in a leadership position and I was not familiar with the first text myself. However as the sessions wore on, I found myself interjecting my own questions that drove the discourse toward my intended target. Looking back I wished that I took the time to craft my own questions with relevance to my research. Furthermore I wish I knew that bias in questions of this nature do not matter, because in the words of Prof. Manigault-Bryant “I want to know what I want to know”. Without further adieu here are the sample questions for each section.

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah


1)  Discuss your first impression when you read about Sister Souljah’s main character, Winter Santiaga? Do you find her lifestyle enviable? If so, why?

2)  What do you find disturbing about Winter’s relationship with her parents? What type of woman were they molding her to become? Use examples from the first three or four chapters to support your answer.

3)  The character, Midnight, seems to be much different from the other young men that are around Winter’s crew. What sets him apart from the others? Does the fact that he may have some character give you a different view of drug dealers? If so, how?

4)  What do you think about the gifts Rickie Santiaga gives his daughter? How do the types of gifts she receives contribute to her behavior in her world?

5)  Not only are the younger  characters in the story stuck on the value of possessions, but the parents and adults are as well. What is the message the youth are receiving about the importance of education? If you have or had a friend like Winter, how would you talk with her about her choices to abandon her education?

6)  Winter Santiaga and her crew engage in sex freely and pregnancies runrampant in her community. Discuss your feelings about their sexuality and how self-respect and feelings of worth tie into their behavior. In other words, how do you feel their behavior speaks to their feelings of self-respect and self-worth?

Taken from the Emery Book Club website, a blog dedicated to the academic and spiritual uplift of young girls


1)Briefly discuss your feelings about Sista Souljah’s assessment of American society’s responsibility through its negative portrayal of Black women on television, in movies, and in music videos for creating a negative self-image of Black girls’ as well as corrupting their sexuality. How important is it for Black girls to want to become wholesome, self-respecting women by building their self-esteem,  self-worth and self-image? Are those qualities a Black girl should value or did Winter’s values make more sense? Explain.

2) Is Winter a sympathetic character?

3) What did you think about the author writing herself in as a character in this book? How close do you think the character is to the read Sister Souljah?

4) Did you find the author’s voice authentic?

5) Why do you think the author wrote this book? Did she seem to have an agenda?

Taken from Emery Book Club once again and the online book club Supremacy of Literacy


1) What was Winter’s relationship like with her mother? Father? Sisters? Friends?

2) There are several themes in the novel: life/death, time, drugs, spirituality, and role models. Discuss the various themes and their significance in the novel.

3) What was Sister Souljah trying to achieve by writing the novel?

4) Ricky Santiaga, Midnight, and Bullet appear throughout the novel. How are these characters juxtaposed against one another?

Taken from the Durham County Library’s 2013 Discussion Guide

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


 1) How does Katniss feel about the country of Panem? Why does she need to make her face “an indifferent mask” and be careful what she says in public?

2) Describe Katniss’s relationships with Gale, with Prim, and with her mother. How do those relationships define her personality? Why does she say about Peeta, “I feel like I owe him something, and I hate owing people”? How does her early encounter with Peeta affect their relationship after they are chosen as tributes?

3) Before the Games start, Peeta tells Katniss, “. . . I want to die as myself . . . I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” What does this tell you about Peeta? What does he fear more than death? Is he able to stay true to himself during the Games?

Taken from a Teaching Discussion Guide for The Hunger Games trilogy from Scholastic’s Teacher Book Wizard.

 4) What skills help Katniss stay alive? Her knowledge of nature? Her trapping ability? What personality traits keep her going? Her intelligence? Her self-control?

5) In what ways do the Gamemakers control the “entertainment” value of the Games? How does it affect the tributes to know they are being manipulated to make the Games more exciting for sponsors and viewers?

Taken from  One Book, One Community’s webpage