Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Aram’s Choice

Wood, Muriel (Illustrator)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2006. 84 pages
First published: 2006
ISBN: 9781550413540 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Historical

Text Elements:

conflict, multimodal, setting, structures and features

Award

The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Express Award Nominee – 2007

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Through 12-year-old Aram, the author sensitively portrays the plight of thousands of children exiled in Greece after the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s. When Aram is told that he is one of 50 boys being sent from the orphanage to Canada, he angrily refuses. He then realizes that in Canada, “a country so rich you can pick gold from the trees,” he can find enough money to bring his grandmother from Corfu. So begins his journey with friends and a beloved teacher—by cramped cargo boats, elegant passenger ships and trains—all the way to the “paradise” of the Georgetown Boys Farm in Ontario.

The actual genocide is lightly touched on in a few poignant words. “His father had been shot before his eyes. He remembered the last time he saw his mother. She was marching in the desert, a Turkish soldier holding a bayonet to her back. With a swirl of dust she was gone.”

In brief scenes, skillfully drawn through simple wording, she describes the challenges of Aram’s journey with his companions. She peppers her descriptions with sights, sounds and tastes new to Aram, like the explosive flavour of spearmint gum.

Muted, realistic paintings tenderly and dramatically convey Aram’s emotional journey full of sadness, loyalty, gratitude and hope. “As Aram drifted off to sleep, he could feel the solid ground beneath him and he felt safe.”

The book includes a glossary, suggested readings, a historical note and a map of Aram’s journey.

  •  

    Read the historical note at the end. Discuss other times in history when people have been treated unfairly due to their nationality, heritage or religious beliefs.

  •  

    What does the word refugee mean? List some of the challenges Aram faced as a refugee in Canada in 1923. Do refugees today face the same challenges?

  •  

    Write the letter that Aram might have written to his grandmother. What will you mention?

  •  

    Find three examples of kindness in the story. What effect did they have on Aram’s life? How can small acts of kindness bring about big change in the world?

  •  

    Do you think Mr. Chechian went to Ottawa for the boys? What do you think happened to him? Write some diary entries from Mr. Chechian’s point of view.

  •  

    Based on the cover, make predictions about the story.

  •  

    Read the historical note at the end. Identify the countries on a world map. Discuss other times in history when people have been treated unfairly due to their nationality, heritage or religious beliefs.

  •  

    As one of the children, write a letter to Mrs. Walker about your experience going to your new home.

  •  

    Return to your predictions. How do you see things now?

  •  

    Do you think Mr. Chechian went to Ottawa for the boys? What do you think happened to him? On a Government of Canada website, research what Mr. Chechian would have to do today to help.

  •  

    Do some research and discuss the reasons for and consequences of the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century.

  •  As you read, look at the illustrations, paying close attention to the expressions on Aram’s face. Do they accurately reflect what he’s feeling?
  •  Do some research on a more recent refugee movement and compare it to the hardships Aram and his people experienced. Share your findings with a partner or in a small group and give your opinion on who had it harder, explaining why.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • To use information and communications technologies
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Social Sciences