Literature Unit Ideas for Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (31 Days of Literature Unit Study Ideas)

This post is part of the 31 Days of Literature Unit Ideas series. You can find links to the other books in the series here. If you’d like to use this book as a literature unit, there is a link to get my free book- The Ultimate Book of Unit Studies for Literature Lovers which has this unit study as well as 44 more and other unit study resources.

Today’s post features the book Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski.Although the book is often listed as a 3rd-6th-grade reader, there is quite a bit  of dialect usage in the characters’ speech. Younger readers may have a hard time with this. I enjoyed reading it aloud because of the dialect usage. If you are hesitant to read it aloud because of that, you could choose to listen to an audio version of the book.

Literature unit study for Strawberry Girl

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About the book:

The book is set in Central Florida in the early 1900s. Birdie Boyer has come with her family to live in central Florida where they hope to grow strawberries, oranges, and other crops to sell. The family faces many hardships, some from the harshness of nature around them and some from difficult neighbors- the Slaters. As the family faces these hardships with resiliancy, young Birdie establishes a grudging friendship with one of the Slater boys- “Shoestring.”
There is a very interesting forward from the author in which she relates some of the history of the people that settled in Central Florida in the late 1800s and early 1900s- the “Crackers.” These people faced poverty and physical hardships as they struggles to live in the Florida backwoods. The author gather information from the book by thoroughly studying the Cracker people, getting to know many of them and spending time in their homes.


  • The dialogue in the book is sometimes difficult to follow because the characters speak with a Cracker/backwoods dialect. Read this article to learn about dialect and how authors use it in their writing.
  • In the book, Birdie and her family have moved to a new place and have many difficulties along the way. Write or tell about a time when you moved to a new place, went to a new class, or met new friends.
  • Lois Lenski illustrated the book as well as authored it. She has a unique illustration style. Looking at the picture on the front of the book have children tell what they think the book will be about. Write these ideas down and continue to look at them throughout the reading.
  • Watch this book trailer and add to the ideas about what the story is about.

Things to talk about:

  • Talk about what kind of person Birdie was. Describe her character.
  • Talk about the differences between the Slater’s family and the Boyer’s family. Do you think those differences helped to shape Birdie, to make her who she was?
  • Discuss the hardships the Boyers faced in their new home. Which do you think would be the most difficult?
  • Birdie’s father often reminds her: “Don’t count your biddies ‘fore they’re hatched, gal young un!” What do you think this means and how is it important in the story.

History/Geography learning:

Science Learning:

  • Read about the animals that live in Central Florida.
  • Choose one of the animals that is mentioned in the book and write a paragraph about it. Tell some of the characteristics of the animal and where it can be found (only Central Florida or other places?)
  • Read about how strawberries are grown.

Language learning:

  • Begin a Venn diagram that will compare and contrast the Boyer and Slater families throughout the story. You can find a free printable one here.
  • Keep a vocabulary journal as you read. Write down three new words from each chapter and define them.
  • Birdie and Shoestring are two of the prominent characters in the story. Use this character map to make observations about Birdie and this map to make observations about Shoestring.
Literature unit study for Strawberry Girl

Hands-on activities:

  • If you have the right soil and temperature conditions, plant your own strawberry patch.
  • Find a yummy strawberry recipe and make it.

Other resources:

Other books to read:

If you’d like to use Strawberry Girl as a literature unit study, you can download my free ebook- The Ultimate Book of Unit Studies for Literature Lovers here. It’s got this unit study as well as 44 others!

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