The Best Worst Thing


  • Written by: Kathleen Lane
  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 820
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 7, 2016)

Summary: In light of an ever-changing, and uncertain world comes The Best Worst Thing. It’s the story of a young girl, Maggie, who is entering middle school. She has many anxieties, such as the fear that the person that murdered a grocery store worker will kill other people. Maggie’s anxieties control much of her life, but there is a happy ending which proves that sometimes things that are scary can bring things that are not.

5 keywords: Coming-of-Age, Diversity, Fiction, Middle Grade Read, Chapter Book. 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.2
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

Suggested Delivery: Small-group read.

Electronic Resources:

Share both of these reviews of the story before the story, this will give the students a bit more background on the story in order to make predictions about the story.

Website: This website has information about the author and the book. Use this as a schema resource where students can find information about their questions. Using Author websites is a great habit to get students into.

Key Vocabulary:

Siccing – Attacking

Socializing – Interacting with people

Casualties – A person hurt or killed during a war or accident

Bengal – Region between Bangladesh and India

Acting pretty – To act in a way that is beautiful

Witness – A person who sees something happen, usually a crime

Before:  Introduce students to the book by asking them what the title means. Have them make predictions based on this, the cover image, and the inside description. Write a list of possible outcomes the students have come up with.

During: While reading the book, students should reflect at the end of every three chapters (they’re very short) and write about any questions, concerns, predictions, or reactions to the story, in their writing notebook. When they finish the book have students look back at the questions they asked and reflect on these. Were any other questions answered later in the story? What does this say about the author and chapter books? If their questions were not answered have the students probe the teacher. 

After: After the story has been read in small groups, have students review what they have read by asking them questions. There is a lot of inferential comprehension in this book. Ask students why they think Maggie repeated many of her prayers twice, why many chapters were exactly the same (her “going to be” ritual), or why she needed even things? Why do you think she no longer needed to get a kiss on both sides of her cheeks in the end? Discuss anxiety and how it can sometimes make people want to organize things evenly, or say things a certain amount of times.

Writing Activity: Have students write a blog post (audience: the public) about their “best worst thing,” or something that made them nervous. They can use Tumblr, Blogspot, or WordPress to organize their blog post. It should be written in a journal format in the first person. However, grammar and spelling will count, as they are writing for the public. Have the students respond to each other’s blogs with advice for nervousness/comments about their thoughts on what they shared. 

Was there something that has happened to you that was perceived as bad? But actually only ended up being something good? In what ways is this similar to Maggie? In what ways is it not?


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