Pedro's Journal Literature Guide

The literature guide for Pedro's Journal, a story about Columbus' travels, includes enrichment activities and Internet resources, as well as a list of other books by Pam Conrad. Enjoy this novel for Columbus Day or during a unit on explorers.

Pedro's Journal

by Pam Conrad
Pedro's Journal

Pedro's Journal, by Pam Conrad, tells the tale of Pedro de Salcedo, a ship's boy aboard the Santa Maria, who accompanies Christopher Columbus on the journey to find the new world. Pedro's story is told in journal entries about the trip across the Atlantic and the exploration of the Indies. Pedro sees Columbus as egotistical and hot-tempered. He describes the native people as peaceful and unfairly terrorized by the Spanish. This book is appealing for reluctant readers because the characters, historical details, and plot are written in simple language. It is appropriate for students in grades 2-6.

We also have a printable version of this literature guide, for your convenience.

Enrichment Activities

Exploring Genre
  • This book is a good example of the genre Historical Fiction. Set in the period of 1492-1493 during the actual voyage of Columbus to the New World, it weaves a fictional story around historical fact and research. The author's note at the end of the book acts as a disclaimer for absolute accuracy, as her purpose was to create fiction, but the book can serve as an excellent vehicle for exploring facts from the time period. Before students begin reading the book, make a big chart on a bulletin board with the following categories: observations, questions, fact, fiction. As students read, ask them to jot down interesting observations from the story onto sticky notes. Place the sticky notes under the observation category. Ask students to formulate a question for each observation they make and then do research to determine whether the observation is fact or fiction and why.





    Columbus is mean to people on the ship.

    Was Columbus an egotistical, unpleasant person?

    In fact, Columbus was a very egotistical and ill-tempered person.

    Pedro is a ship's boy on the Santa Maria

    Was there really a ship's boy named Pedro who acted as Columbus' confidant?

    It is unlikely that Columbus would have confided in someone with such a low status on the ship.

    A Sea of Words
  • This book is loaded with nautical terms. Be a word detective and make a list of the nautical words used to describe and name ship parts and crew. Try to determine what the word means from the context of the story. If you don't know what the word means, check it out in a dictionary. Use your list of words to create a word search or crossword puzzle for your classmates. Here are a few to get you started: captain, dock, fleet, ship's boy, dinghy.

    The Pedro Times
  • Imagine that you are Pedro de Salcedo just returned from your seven month voyage. Write an article for the local newspaper, giving a first hand account of some of your adventures. Include a drawing or two of the strange things you saw on the voyage to the New World.

    A Different Point of View
  • Imagine that you are one of the native people that Columbus meets on the islands. Write an account of how the native person would view Columbus and his men and ships.Use information from the book to support the native point of view.

    More Reading
  • Read Jane Yolen's Encounter, a fictionalized account of Columbus's meeting with the Tanio people, written from the perspective of a Tanio child. Or your students may read Morning Girl by Michael Dorris, which deals with the Taino people immediately before Columbus lands on their island. Used together, Pedro's Journal, Morning Girl, and Encounter may raise questions about the treatment of indigenous people and how their lives were changed following their "discovery." Explore some of the questions and issues of exploration and exploitation. Do the authors of these books have different points of view?

    21st Century Explorers
  • What are the new worlds left to be explored today? Columbus sailed, at great risk, into the unknown to find fame and fortune. If Columbus lived today, what might he be doing? Ask your students, if given the chance to be "Ship's Boy" on an exploration into space, would they go? Why or why not?

  • Build a model of one of Columbus's sailing ships or make a drawing of one. Do some research to find out the actual size and dimensions of the ship.
  • Books by Pam Conrad

    Call Me Ahnighito
    Publisher: HarperCollins Juvenile Books.
    Grade Level:Pre-K,Primary
    This picture book is the unusual story of a meteorite which is taken from Greenland and transported to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

    Blue Willow
    Publisher: Philomel Books.
    Grade Level:Pre-K,Primary
    This Asian fairy tale tells the sad story of Kung Shi Fair, her domineering father, and Chang the Good.

    The Tub People's Christmas
    Publisher: HarperCollins Juvenile Books.
    Grade Level:Pre-K,Primary
    The third installment in the Tub People series finds the wooden toys confused by Santa's arrival on Christmas Eve and their new status as Christmas tree ornaments.

    My Daniel
    Publisher: HarperCollins Juvenile Books.
    Grade Level:Intermediate, Middle
    Prairie girl, Julia Creath, tells this tale about her brother Daniel's hunt for dinosaur remains in Nebraska before the turn of the century.

    Excerpted from

    Columbus Day Grades 2-5
    Compiled by the editors of TeacherVision®
    Browse a printable teacher resource book that will help you teach about Columbus and other explorers. You'll find lessons on Pedro's Journal, mazes, research projects on explorers, and graphic organizers to help you.
    About the author

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    The TeacherVision editorial team is comprised of teachers, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the teaching space.

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