Reading Group Guide 16 & Pregnant
By LaLa ThomasAbout the Book
Erykah was looking forward to junior year at East Prep High. She has a cute boyfriend, gets good grades, and has the best
bestie. Money is tight, though that’s nothing new in her world. But everything changes when she gets pregnant. Having a baby at sixteen was definitely not part of the plan.
Kelly’s plan was to dominate junior year—grade-wise and on the basketball court—and eventually get an athletic scholarship. It did not include helping her best friend through a pregnancy. But that’s what best friends do, right? Besides, Kelly has every intention of being a good auntie.
As the two girls navigate the pregnancy, they’ll learn some harsh realities about the world and be forced to make some huge decisions. They’ll also discover a deep reserve of strength and compassion . . . for each other and themselves.Discussion Questions
1. What are some of the judgments and misconceptions Erykah has to deal with from her family about her boyfriend and their situation?
2. What do you think influences her as she makes the decision whether or not to have an abortion?
3. How does Kelly’s life contrast with Erykah’s?
4. What is the role Kelly plays in Erykah’s life? How might a chosen family support someone young and pregnant in ways their given family might not?
Chapters 3 and 4
5. What is revealed in Chapter 4 that surprises Erykah?
6. According to Erykah, how does Miguel feel about the pregnancy?
7. What do you think about the idea that it’s possible to have a child while in high school and still achieve your dreams?
8. Why do you think Erykah decides to keep her pregnancy a secret?
9. How do you think Kelly would react if she knew the whole truth (which Erykah’s mother does not know)?
10. How does Erykah’s expectation of how her pregnancy might feel contrast with reality?
11. What kind of treatment does she receive from medical workers and how does this make her feel?
12. Do you think Erykah’s plan to hide her pregnancy is realistic? Why or why not?
13. What happens when Erykah confides in Kelly and tells her the whole truth?
14. What do you think might happen if everyone learns Erykah’s secret? Describe what you think will be different characters’ reactions, including those of her brother Jayden, Mr. Morgan, and Erykah’s friend KO.
15. What happens at the party? Explain how the events of the party impact Erykah’s social status and why you think they have the impact that they do.
16. How do you think Erykah’s mother will react when she hears the news? Support your response with textual evidence.
17. Do you think Erykah’s mother reacted the way Erykah thought she would?
18. What stereotypes and misconceptions exist about single caregivers on welfare? How could these misconceptions be dismantled or disrupted?
19. Though the girls are the same age, how are Erykah’s concerns different from Kelly’s now that she’s an expectant mother? How does this difference affect their friendship, if at all?
20. What does Erykah believe the people around her think of her? Why does she feel this way about Kelly, the school administration, and the other students?
Chapters 16 and 17
21. What comparisons and differences do you see between Erykah’s and Kelly’s stories up to this point? What dreams and fears do they share?
22. In your opinion, what has driven Erykah and Kelly apart? Support your answer with evidence from the novel.
23. Why is Kelly nervous about the test in this chapter?
24. Do you think Kelly’s life will mirror Erykah’s? Why or why not? Make a prediction.
25. After helping Erykah at the doctor’s office, why do you think Kelly makes the choice she does?
26. How does the political climate influence Kelly’s decisions about pregnancy?
27. Why is Kelly hesitant to tell Erykah about the pregnancy and her upcoming appointment?
28. What are some of the misconceptions Kelly admits she has about young people who get pregnant? Do you or anyone you know hold any of these same misconceptions?
Chapters 23 and 24
29. Why do you think Kelly and Erykah have different views on pregnancy?
30. What, if anything, surprises you about Kelly’s parents’ reaction to her news?
31. Why do you think Kelly is so self-assured and confident in her decision?
32. Why do you suppose Erykah seeks so much validation from the world and so much of Kelly’s sense of self-worth comes from within?
33. What kind of transformation does Kelly experience in this chapter, and how might it impact the relationships around her?
34. How has Erykah changed since the beginning of the book? Consider both her relationships with others and her thoughts about her pregnancy.
35. What factors bring Kelly and Erykah together in the end, though their lives wind up taking different paths?
36. What are some of the health risks Erykah has had to face? How has having to confront them changed her?
Chapters 32 and 33
37. How does pregnancy bring Erykah closer to those around her?
38. How does the reality of Sierra’s birth compare with Erykah’s expectations? As a reader, what did you expect from this part of Erykah’s story?
39. Why do you think Erykah’s feelings toward Miguel have changed?
40. How is Erykah’s story both a personal transformation and a message about reproductive justice for Black and teen mothers?Extension Activities Gallery Walk—
Using research and considerate interview techniques, capture real-life stories of young mothers, and create a gallery walk displaying mini posters with their stories. With permission, in the top left corner place a picture of the young mother and her child. In the top right corner place her first name or a psuedonym (if she is willing to provide it). In the bottom left corner, write a shortened version of her story. In the bottom right corner, use Speak Pipe (https://www.speakpipe.com/
) to create an MP3 audio version of her voice telling her story, then make a QR code so that viewers can listen to her. If you do not know of any real-life stories, use those from the MTV series Teen Mom
and create content for each of the squares. Display your mini posters in a gallery walk in a school or library to share the stories. Social Media Campaign
—Using your resources and library, research current news stories pertaining to reproductive justice, and create a social media campaign for your favorite platform. You may consider using the information from this resource to help spread the word: Media Literacy | Read Write Think, https://www.readwritethink.org/collections/media-literacy Character Analysis
—Using Freytag’s Pyramid, choose one character and plot the most important parts of their story on the pyramid. Use quotes from the story to align with each part of the plot pyramid. You may choose to illustrate them and explain how each moment shaped the character and their eventual outcome. https://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/plot-diagram Let’s Debate!
—Using the resources on Room for Debate, Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, or any other resource you might have access to, research current opinions and perspectives on reproductive rights. Then prepare a visual representation using Google slides or any other online tool of your choice highlighting the main points of the debate about politics, and the degree to which the government can impact a woman’s choice to seek an abortion or not. https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate PSA
—Create a public service announcement to educate the public about Black mothers and their birth experiences using YouTube, Vimeo, Animoto, or any other media production site. Some sites you may find helpful (along with those in the back of the book) include:
Centering Humanity: The Black Birth Experience - Every Mother Counts (EMC) | Improving Maternal Health: https://everymothercounts.org/choicesinchildbirth/chapters/centering-humanity-the-black-birth-experience/?gclid=CjwKCAiAwc-dBhA7EiwAxPRylFlrU4tx3acM2o2M8KOZ6i3mrWRbsNhxinGxEA4LFrNAMfkYxc5sNBoCIXsQAvD_BwE
Black Mamas Matter | Center for Reproductive Rights: https://reproductiverights.org/black-mamas-matter/Julia E. Torres (@juliaerin80) is a language arts teacher and librarian in Denver, Colorado. An advocate for all students and public education, Torres is a frequent conference and event speaker, and facilitates workshops and professional conversations about equity, antibias/antiracist education, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and literacy in the digital age. She is a current member of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee, a 2020 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, and a past president of the Colorado Language Arts Society (a regional affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English). She holds a master’s in secondary education curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix, a master’s in creative writing from Regis University, and a master’s in library and information science from the University of Denver (2023). Her forthcoming title
Liven Up Your Library: Design Engaging and Inclusive Programs for Tweens and Teens now available from ISTE publications. Learn more about Julia at juliaetorres.com This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. For more Simon & Schuster guides and classroom materials, please visit simonandschuster.net.