Katie's Wish

by Barbara Shook Hazen

Discussion and Activities

For pre-reading ideas and background information on multiculturalism, see Around the World in 80 Books: A Multicultural Guide.

Lady Jane Wilde, mother of poet Oscar Wilde, wrote a collection of poems, which expressed her love and commitment to her native Ireland, under the name Speranza. Read aloud this last verse of a poem entitled "The Famine Year." Lead students in a discussion in which they answer the following questions, based on their knowledge of the Irish potato famine and the socio-economic circumstances that contributed to it:

  • What do these images describe?
  • To whom is this verse addressed? Why?
  • What is the predominant emotion expressed in this verse?
  • What purpose might Lady Wilde have had in writing this poem?
  • Do you agree or disagree with Lady Wilde's personal/religious/social sentiments?

We are wretches, famished, scorned, human tools to build your pride.
But God will yet take vengeance for the souls for whom Christ died.
Now is your hour of pleasure - bask ye in the world's caress;
But our whitening bones against ye shall rise as witnesses,
From the cabins and the ditches, in their charred, uncoffin'd masses,
From the Angel of the Trumpet will know them as he passes.
A ghastly, spectral army, before the great God we'll stand.
And arraign ye as our murderers, the spoilers of our land.

After discussion, ask students to put themselves in Katie's place and to write a poem describing her feelings and experiences as expressed in this story. The strange fevers that bloated the bellies and turned tongues black in Katie's story were symptoms of infectious diseases, many of which are now curable or no longer exist. Ask students what illnesses they have had, what symptoms they experienced, and what medications they took to cure them. Ask them what preventive measures (vaccines) they have had to build immunities to specific diseases (e.g., measles, tuberculosis, tetanus). Using Internet or library resources, research selected infectious diseases, their causes, and their symptoms. Construct a timeline showing the dates and location of major outbreaks/epidemics throughout history.


Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.

The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.

If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus


December Calendar of Events
December is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event. Happy holidays!

Bullying Prevention Resources
Bullying can cause both physical and emotional harm. Put a stop to classroom bullying, with our bullying prevention resources. Learn how to recognize several forms of bullying and teasing, and discover effective techniques for dealing with and preventing bullying in school.

Conflict Resolution
Teach your students to how resolve conflict amongst themselves without resorting to name-calling, fights, and tattling.

Immigration Resources
Studying immigration brings to light the many interesting and diverse cultures in the world.