About ClassZone  |  eServices  |  Web Research Guide  |  Contact Us  |  Online Store
ClassZone Home
McDougal Littell Home
Language Arts: Novel Guides
Home > Language Arts > Novel Guides > Johnny Tremain

  Literature Connections

  Further Reading

  Related Reading

Johnny Tremain

Esther Forbes

Theme: The Revolutionary War
Grades: Grades 7-8

Johnny Tremain is a historical novel about a young boy in colonial Boston. Johnny is a talented but arrogant silversmith's apprentice whose life is turned upside-down when he injures his hand. In time he becomes a messenger boy on horseback for the Sons of Liberty and meets most of the famous founding fathers: John Adams, Sam Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. He becomes a spy for the Sons of Liberty, takes part in the Boston Tea Party, and struggles with loss at the battles of Lexington and Concord.

  1. Tapping Prior Knowledge: The Revolutionary War.
    Ask students to work in small groups to discuss what they know about the American Revolution. Have them make notes of their discussion so they can share their information with other groups. Encourage students to consider the causes of the war, the attitudes of the colonists, and the position of the British. After the groups have prepared their notes, have a volunteer in each group summarize their discussion so that groups can compare their conclusions. Point out different opinions among the groups on the cause of the war and the attitudes of the colonists and the Crown. Have students consider what accounts for different views about a historic event.
  1. When is a War Justified?
    Have students explore American involvement in wars since the country's inception. They can do some research or simply work from their own knowledge. Have students compare American attitudes toward various wars: World War II, Vietnam, the Korean Conflict, Operation Desert Storm, and so forth. After students finish their discussion, have everyone make a list of conditions under which Americans believe war is justified. You can use students' feedback to facilitate a debate, or simply have students read their lists and note that people will always have differing opinions about the circumstances under which war is justified.
  1. Creative Cartography.
    Suggest that students make a map based on locations and routes mentioned in the novel. For example, they might map Boston locations, such as the Common, Paul Revere's house, Old North Church, and Hancock's wharf; the route that Johnny took when delivering papers; or the British troop movements toward Lexington.

  1. Revolutionary Scenes.
    Invite students with artistic ability to draw battle scenes at Lexington and Concord, using in part the descriptions in the novel as a guide. They can alternatively take different scenes of Boston described by Forbes and draw them.
  1. Tell Us More.
    Have students choose one historical figure who plays a part in the novel about whom they would like to know more. Instruct them to research that person and write a biographical sketch about him.

  2. History, In-Depth.
    Have students research to find out more about one of the historical events mentioned in the novel. Have them write a research paper about that event.