Study Guide

Homeless Bird Literature and Writing

By Gloria Whelan

Literature and Writing

Spoiler alert: We love literature. So (duh) we were rocking out to the talk of poetry and books in Homeless Bird. For Koly, literature becomes a way to escape her present (horrible) life. She listens to the poems in Mr. Mehta's book with wonder and awe and can almost see the caged bird they talk about. Literature is also Koly's ticket to freedom, though. Once she learns how to read for herself—with the help of her father-in-law—she knows what forms and documents are actually saying. Words on the page come to life for her, and enable her to take charge of her own life, too. Writing for the win.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Think about the different times someone learns how to read or write in the book. What do they have in common? What motivates people to learn how to read?
  2. Why doesn't Chandra want to know how to read? Later, Koly thinks she regrets that decision. Why? What about reading becomes important to Chandra and what does this tell you about her experiences?
  3. How much of reading and writing is gender-motivated in the book? What notions are there about girls reading that are different when boys learn to read? What does this tell you about society?

Chew on This

Reading is the single most important skill Koly develops toward realizing her independence.

Homeless Bird ultimately argues that no matter what gender or occupation someone has, the ability to read is only helpful.

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