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Bestselling Author

Parkland Reader's Guide

From UW-Madison 

Parkland was the 2020 First Year Experience book for UW-Madison (which they call Go Big Reads). They developed several great resources, and a taped a presentation that's available online: 

From Dave 

Version 3 (December 2020)

I also created this separate set of questions in consultation with readers, teachers and some subjects of the book. Feel free to use or share.

  1. Do you remember where you were on February 14, 2018? How did you hear about the Parkland shooting? Did you think it would be just like all the others? Why was it different this time?

  2. Who was the first Parkland student you recall seeing? Which made the biggest early impression on you? Did anything in this book change your perception of young people?

  3. Were you surprised by how many students played such a powerful role in this movement? Which ones did you respond to most powerfully? Daniel Duff and Dylan Baierlein are prominent characters despite low media profiles. Why do you think Cullen devotes so much time to them?

  4. What role did the civil rights legacy and Martin Luther King Jr.’s six principles of nonviolence play in this movement? Were you surprised to see the impact they had on the kids’ organizing principles? What did you think of the comparison of the Freedom Riders to some of the kids who joined them on the Road To Change bus tour?

  5. What parts of the book were most surprising to you?

  6. To some, Emma appeared to break down on stage at the DC march, and a local teacher said, “This is too much responsibility for these kids.” How did you respond when you read that? How did the kids cope with their trauma?

  7. If you were a parent of one of the teens in MFOL, what would you want to tell them? What did you think of the parents depicted in the book?

  8. How did you feel about Cullen’s refusal to name the killer—and to limit him to a few pages? Do you believe we encourage these killers by making them famous? Can journalists diminish them while still effectively reporting the story?

  9. What role did social media play in launching and sustaining this movement? How does its impact compare to the traditional media’s coverage of these kids?

  10. The March for Our Lives is now the third- or fourth-largest single-day protest in American history. It is in a dead heat with the largest protest of the Vietnam War Era, the first led by college students. When a group of high school students announced their march four days after their tragedy, did you believe they could pull off something of that magnitude? Have we underestimated teens?

  11. What do you think of Cullen’s depiction of Columbine as the instigation of The School Shooter Era, and Parkland as a possible way out? What do you think it will take to end this blight?

  12. Had you read Columbine before Parkland? Did you expect them to be similar? What did you think of Cullen’s choice of focus for each book?

  13. Was this book painful or difficult to read? Which scenes were most memorable?

  14. What did you think of the Parkland kids’ decision to reframe their mission as ending gun violence against all youth, rather than just school shootings? What did they learn from including the Chicago kids, like Alex King, D’Angelo McDade, Trevon Bosley and Diego Garcia? How did they affect your perception of this problem and this movement.

  15. What do you think the significance was of the Parkland kids performing Spring Awakening? What parallels do you see between the story of the musical and the experiences of the MSD kids?

  16. Why do you think Cullen opens the book with Jackie Corin reflecting on a frightening encounter with an anti-gun safety protestor? How might the effect have been different if Cullen had opened with the shooting, or an anecdote from one of the more well-recognized members of MFOL?

  17. How did you feel about Cullen appearing as a narrator and commenting on the story periodically? Did it add or detract from your experience? Did he change over the course of the book?

  18. This kids all suffered death threats and withering abuse. How do you think you would reacted in their position? Did it surprise you that David responded so calmly when attacked in person?

  19. What about the kids’ background prepared them for this moment, and made them. So effective as communicators. Which ones did you find most persuasive?

  20. Do you think the MFOL movement did an adequate job of being inclusive? Do you think the movement changed its approach to diversity over time?

  21. Alfonso and Jackie note that their participation in MFOL took a toll on their academic performance. Do you think the tradeoff was worth it? What are they missing out on?

  22. Columbine was published ten years after the shooting, and tried to take a long view. Parkland covers still happening.  What are the benefits of publishing this story while the movement is still taking shape? What are dangers?

  23. When we look back in twenty years, do you think the MFOL uprising will have borne significant impact? Where do you see it leading? Where do you picture these kids then?

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