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Reading Discussion Guides

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

About the Book

One glance and students know that the new girl at Mica High School is not your ordinary high school student. Stargirl Caraway is a free spirit. She has a pet rat named Cinnamon, plays the ukulele in the cafeteria, and refuses to wear the requisite jeans and t-shirts. Leo Borlock is both fascinated and horrified by Stargirl’s disdain for fitting in. As he falls in love with her, he still longs for her to be more “normal.” But maybe he should be careful about what he wishes.

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal, and Stargirl, a New York Times bestseller and an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. He made his picture book debut with My Daddy and Me, a loving tribute to fathers and sons. He lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen, in Wayne, Pennsylvania. While they write in separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and celebrates one another’s work together. Their six children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of clever material for his writing.

For more information about the author, watch our video interview with Jerry Spinelli.

Guide prepared by Teri S. Lesesne

Discussion Questions

  • “Star people are rare,” Archie tells Leo at the end of Stargirl. “You’ll be lucky to meet another.” (p. 177) What is Archie telling Leo both about the nature of his relationship with Stargirl and about Stargirl herself?
  • Peer pressure plays a significant role in the story of Stargirl. Discuss how the students of Mica High try to change Stargirl to suit their idea of what a “normal” person is. How does peer pressure change other characters in the story, most notably Leo?
  • Setting the novel in the desert area around Mica, Arizona, allows Spinelli the chance to have Leo and Stargirl explore this arid world. How would this story be different if it were set in another place, particularly one with a different climate?

Extension Activities

  • In the book, Stargirl is encouraged by her parents and by Archie to explore subjects of interest to her. Let students loose to design their own “shadow curriculums” like Stargirl’s! Prompt them to explore some of the nontraditional subjects they would elect to explore on their own.
  • Start a Stargirl Society at your school. Hold regular meetings, and host special events like an Inner-Beauty Pageant. For more ideas, visit the author’s Stargirl web page.


Jerry Spinelli
Age Level:
Middle Grade, YA
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Jerry Spinelli
Age Level:
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