Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins

by Elizabeth Doyle Carey

Callahan Cousins Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins celebrates family ties, loyalty, and the wisdom of children. Follow four preteen girls who are having the adventure of a lifetime while spending the summer with their grandmother on Gull Island.

Read the Book Review: Callahan Cousins, to find more about the educational value of this book. Explore Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins with your students. This book was originally published online at, but is now also available in print!


  1. Assign students to fill in a timeline of major events from the story.

  2. Have your students pretend they are writing an article for a newspaper on the feud between the Callahans and the Bickets. Use the handout to focus them on the assignment, as they answer questions and write the article.

  3. Using the Internet or the library, students can write FAQs about a nature-related topic from the story (tides, channels, water depth, wind, islands, or fog).

  4. Have students design a different bedroom for each of the cousins, based on their unique personality and style.

  5. Ask your students to imagine 20 years into the future for each cousin. What career will each have? Where will each of them live? Will any of them be married? Will they have children? Have them write a bio on each cousin.

  6. The Callahan grandmother, Gee, states that the only true Callahan traits are generosity, enthusiasm, good sportsmanship, manners, and a sense of humor. Do the cousins have those traits? Assign students to find one example of each trait in the book, and identify which cousin showed that trait.

  7. How would this story be different if it were set on a farm? In a city? With boy cousins? In the 1800s?

  8. Wind is an integral natural element of this story. Ask students to create an invention that uses the wind effectively.

  9. Traditions are very important to the Callahans (for example, Pig Out night, 12-year-old cousins visiting Gull Island for the summer). Do your students have traditions in their family or with friends? Assign students to pick three traditions that are the most important to them and write a paragraph about each one.

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