"My First Negro"
by Robert Cormier

Have you ever done anything you regret? Why did you do it?
What if one of your friends was not accepted by your other friends?

  1. Why is the name "Midnight Raiders" pretty ironic?
  2. Why did they decide to play "Robin Hood?"
  3. Why might Robert be dreading a "Robin Hood's visit" to Alphabet Soup?
  4. Describe Jefferson.
  5. "Somehow Jefferson seemed to belong to the Soup. I just couldn't picture him away from there." (p147) --respond
  6. Why doesn't Robert tell his friends about Jeff? Why doesn't he ask Jeff to join the Midnight Raiders?
  7. What was Robert's "bright idea" for the raid. What was he thinking?
  8. "I found my staring into the eyes of Jefferson Johnson Stone." (p152)  What is going through each boy's mind at this moment?
  9. Why doesn't Robert run from Nutsy at the end? Explain why you think so.

Vocabulary Practice (Copy, filling in the blanks.)

    "…He told me his name was Jefferson Johnson Stone, and I was awed
    by the _____________ of the name coming from someone so
    ______________ in ________________.  With a name like that, he
    should own the world and stride the streets like a king," and not be
    _____________ and living in a ______________ old house.

    steeped, splendor, destitute, squalor, dilapidated

More:(Copy the sentence and guess the definition.)

1. Before you begin a test, always peruse the directions from beginning to end.
2. The sounds of music emanated from a tinny phonograph.
3. The pungent smell of garlic filled the house.
4. Robert, trying to hide his friendship with Jeff, always took a circuitous route to his house.
5. The old man was so gaunt you could see his bones through his skin.
6. He looked big and scary; I knew he would be an intimidating adversary.

Here is some more vocabulary practice for these words.
Here are a couple of crossword puzzles for these words!
More vocabulary:
scrutinize, assuage, rue, connotation/denotation (example), dignity, allay, pummel, assailant

"Just to see if you were listening..." (Background knowledge)

1. What is a Canuck?
2. What other major language is spoken in the eastern part of Canada (Quebec)?
3. What is today's equivalent of the League of Nations?
4. Why is being laid off from one's job possibly more stressful than being fired?
5. What's a newsreel?

"Just to see if you were listening..."

1. What is a davenport?
2. Pepere is French for ___________ .
3. Noir is French for _________ .
4. What is a sonnet?
5. Name a state that would be considered New England.
6. Name a book/story by Jack London.
7. List two of the stereotypes that Robert (the narrator) thought of when he met Jefferson.
8. What do Jefferson's father and Robert's father have in common?


Crossword Puzzle and Worksheet.

Warm Up (with "Names can Hurt" video)
"Friends and others"

1. From the list below pick five of the qualities that you look for most when deciding on a friend:

2. Give an example of a friend of yours and the qualities that make this person your friend.
3. Would you be willing to change anything about yourself in order to join a particular group? What?
4. What would you do if you had a friend who wasn’t accepted by your other friends?
5. What qualities make you not like a person/people? Be specific!

1. What is the analogy of the "melting pot"?
2. What causes prejudice? Ignorance? Revenge? Jealousy?
3. Should we have "race education"?

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