When the time came for the event, we only had three teens show
up and one left fairly quickly. However, we had many younger children
interested in joining the event. In the spirit of inclusiveness,
we quickly reviewed our discussion questions and decided to go
for it. We had created a form with four questions and spaces for
students to write their ideas and answers. Most of the children
participating in the booktalk were between nine and twelve years
old, although we did have one child who may have been as young
as six or seven.
We had divided our booktalk into short segments which we interspersed
with passages we read from the book. We elicited feedback and
discussion from the group as we went through our talk and read
The four questions we asked and had time to discuss were:
1. What do you think Abuelita's (the grandmother's) advice
2. Do you think everybody has the ability to see ghosts? Why or
3. What do you think happens next?
4. What do you think everyone should know about ghosts?
Unfortunately, none of the children agreed to have their work
or thoughts directly quoted here. As such, we will speak in generalities
without disclosing personal information of the youth. We did have
a lively discussion with a range of opinions shared. Some believed
in ghosts; some didn't. Some had seen ghosts; most hadn't.
Question 1: Generally speaking, most youth thought the
grandmother's advice was a warning and caution to prevent her
granddaughter from being harmed.
Question 2: The range of answers were very diverse when
the youth discussed their opinions about the ability to see ghosts.
One girl told her story of actually seeing friendly ghosts and
how she played with them when she was younger. Some children felt
that ghosts could only be seen by specific people, such as psychics
or fortune-tellers. Others were doubtful if ghosts existed because
they had never seen one firsthand. Interestingly, most of the
youth (whether they had seen a ghost or not) believed they were
real in some capacity.
Question 3: The responses in speculating what happened
next in the story (after the protagonist heard frightening sounds)
were very creative and even a little gory. For example, a few
thought the ghost would kill either Elena (the protagonist) or
her father. Others thought Elena would leave her bedroom, actively
pursue the sounds and see the ghost. Only one person thought the
main character might pretend to ignore the sounds and stay huddled
in her bed.
Question 4: The majority of youth felt that ghosts had
positive and negative characteristics -- just like humans. Some
children said ghosts were essentially monsters, while others claimed
ghosts were walking amongst humans as transparent and (sometimes)