The Secret Life of Bees

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Make this your next book club selection and everyone saves. Get 15% off when you order 5 or more of this title for your book club. Simply enter the coupon code KIDDSECRET at checkout. This offer does not apply to eBook purchases. This offer applies to only one downloadable audio per purchase. Lily Owens has shaped her life around one devastating, blurred, memory-the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion on the peach farm of her harsh, unyielding father has been a fierce-hearted black woman, Rosaleen, her "stand-in mother." When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racits in town, Lily knows it is time to spring them both free. She and Rosaleen take off for a town called Tiburon, South Carolina, a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother. They are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters. Lily enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women-a place where ultimately she can find the single thing her heart longs for most.
Curriculet Details
120 Questions
70 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9th and 10th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining theme, imagery and history. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about the Civil Rights Movement and beekeeping. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of citing textual evidence, discerning themes, and recognizing the elements of imagery. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Chapter One

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What is the point of view being used in this story? 
The author uses a variety of figurative language to create imagery in this passage. She uses onomatopoeia (zzzzzz), simile (like bits of chrome), and metaphor (equating her heart to something sewn together). 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
List three similes that appear in the highlighted section. 
Check out the link below to learn more about Martha White Grits. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What was the "perfume" her mother wore? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What happened to her mother? 
The mention of sock hops helps to better pinpoint the time for the setting of this novel. "Sock hops" were a part of the 1950s to 1960s culture. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does she know that Rosaleen loves her? 
While Sylvan is a fictional setting, the town of McClellanville is an actual place in Charleston County. The mention of the sweet-grass baskets helps lend authenticity to the setting. (This annotation contains a link)
Tiburon, SC, is a fictional place. The author mixes in a lot of facts about real places to help make her fictional places seem more realistic. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What did Lily do with her mother's things? 
The title of the book foreshadows the fact that secrets play a role in this novel. Lily keeps secrets from her father, and her father keeps secrets from Lily. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What are the "rabbit ears" that Rosaleen is using to try to get a better picture on the TV? 
During the Cold War, many people were frightened of the possibility of a nuclear attack. Fallout shelters were safe places to wait out the aftermath of a nuclear war. The link below contains an overview of the history of fallout shelters. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
When is Lily's birthday? 
Although Lily and her father live in the same house, they are isolated. Isolation and the relationship of children and parents are all part of the theme of the novel. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What words and figurative language help create the imagery in the highlighted passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does T. Ray punish Lily? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Up until now, Lily has seen her father's punishments as nothing out of the ordinary. How does her viewpoint change? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
What outside event is entering into the storyline through Rosaleen? 
The event Lily refers to was just one of many injustices that took place during the fight for Civil Rights. Click on the link below to learn more about race and voting in the South. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What simile is used in this passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why is it so easy for Lily to forget the rules about no Negroes being allowed in her church? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why is Rosaleen arrested? 

Chapter Two

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
To what does Lily compare the men? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does T. Ray tell Lily about her mother? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What kind of figurative language is used in the highlighted text? 
Thomas Edison invented many well known items. Lily thinks T. Ray is equally adept at inventing punishments for her. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does Lily mean by "In the space of a few hours I'd become forty years old"? 
The map shows the position of Columbia at the center of the state of South Carolina. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What lies does Lily tell Brother Gerald? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
Why won't Rosaleen apologize? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How did Lily get Rosaleen out of the hospital? 
The Supremes was a musical trio whose works transcended race barriers. Watch the video below to see the Supremes perform "Where did Our Love Go".  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What type of figurative language is used in this sentence? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What do Rosaleen and Lily argue about? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
How does the quotation at the beginning of the chapter relate to the plot of this chapter? 

Chapter Three

This video includes the words of Henry David Thoreau describing the pond. The imagery of Thoreau's writing is very much like that of this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why doesn't Lily know much about Mary? 
General Sherman was a Union officer famous for his "March to the Sea" in which he fought to disable Confederate supply lines. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What clue about the black Virgin Mary does Lily find inside the store? 
Fort Sumter was a pivotal moment in the American Civil War. The Confederates attacked the federal fort and won. It was a shining moment for the Confederacy.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily look for in the newspaper? 

Chapter Four

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What words and figurative language does the author use to create imagery in this passage? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Which of the following is not the name of one of the sisters? 
This video explains the honey making process. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is the secret to a good lie, according to Lily? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What does Lily learn about herself? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily find tucked into the stone wall? 

Chapter Five

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What does August call honey? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why doesn't June want Lily to stay with them? 
Walter Cronkite was the voice of the news for decades.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What upsets May so badly? 
An Orthodox Eclectic is someone who is willing to explore different types of religion and use those aspects that best fit within his or her personal belief system.  
There is actual evidence that bee venom can help with pain relief. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What did August pay the farmers who hosted her bees? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
According to August, what is wrong with May? 
The Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, is a sacred place people go to to pray and seek strength during difficult times. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does Rosaleen feel about August? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
To what is Lily comparing herself when she says she wants to "pull in my mote's bridge"? 
The Russian launch of their satellite Sputnik (1957) began the space race. The Corona Project was an American program developed to spy from outer space. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz #1 

Chapter Six

The queen bee uses this chemical for communication. Communication for bees is fairly clear. Human communication, however, isn't very clear at all, especially when humans lie. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why hasn't June married Neil? 
Lily sees herself through June's eyes and suspects that like the L shaped pancake, June sees her as trash. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What do all the women wear to the Daughters of Mary meeting? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How many times did Our Lady escape the chains? 
The raised fist has long been a symbol of unity and strength. (This annotation contains a link)
Today, we take it for granted that man can reach far into space. During the time of the novel, we had not yet set foot on the moon. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What type of figurative language does August use when talking about the moon? 

Chapter Seven

Zachary Taylor was our 12th president. He was not a supporter of slavery. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is symbolic about Zach's middle name? 
Zach drives a 1959 Ford Fairlane, which looks like the car pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
The author hints that Lily might "wreck something" in the future. What is this called? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Zach want to be? 
Robert Morris, Sr. was the first African American lawyer. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is Lily's fear? 
The Fugitive is about a man who escapes custody and stays one step ahead of the police. This is what Rosaleen and Lily are doing at the moment. (This annotation contains a link)
The boll weevil is a pest that infests cotton plants and destroys them. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What has Lily realized about Zach? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why is Lily crying? 
The plot of Jane Eyre is a bit like Lily's life. (This annotation contains a link)
Before the spin cycle was invented, the clothes had to be wrung out by cranking them through the wringer on top.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Why does Lily suspect that August knows who she is? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
According to Lily, what gets people all mixed up? 

Chapter Eight

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
If Lily could have a month for herself, which month would she choose? 
Bees communicate the location of nectar through dance. Watch the video to learn more. (This annotation contains a video)
There are actually quite a few ancient paintings and pieces of art that depict a Black Madonna. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What things do Lily and August have in common? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How did Our Lady end up with August? 
The story of the first Christmas is told in the Bible (Luke 2:1-20). (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why hasn't August ever married? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What type of figurative language is being used in this sentence? 
The Prickly Ash, or toothache tree, has pain reducing qualities that the Native Americans made use of for toothaches. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily think the bees are doing for her? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What gossip has the town bothered? 
The author mixes in bits of real history to add authenticity to her story. Jack Palance did have a run in with a racist Southern mob in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What information does Miss Lacy find shocking? 
Robert Kennedy was the brother of President John F. Kennedy. Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What question does Lily ask her T. Ray when she calls him on the phone? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily do to make herself feel better? 
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily finally get a chance to do? 

Chapter Nine

Niagara Falls has been the site of quite a few daredevil stunts over the years. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why are they carrying gallons of sugar water? 
Once again, the author uses real history to make her own writing more realistic. Lily and August hear about this news story on the radio as they rush to save the bees. (This annotation contains a link)
Below is a picture of water nymphs captured from A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play by William Shakespeare. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What finally causes June and Lily to laugh together? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is May doing that reminds Lily so clearly of her mother? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily's mother look like in the dream? 
American Bandstand was much like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. It was a reality TV show on which everyday teenagers got to dance to their favorite musical groups. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What does Lily fear she is going to learn about her mother? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is happening in Tiburon when Zach and Lily head into town? 
All television stations, of which there were only 4 or 5, signed off at midnight. There was no TV after midnight. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What has happened to Zach? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Who is Eddie Hazelwurst? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily promise to do for Zach? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does May react when she finds out what has happened to Zach? 

Chapter Ten

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Predict what you think has become of May. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How did May kill herself? 
In cases of suspicious death, an autopsy, a physical exam of the body by a medical professional, is required. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Why does the policeman think Lily should move? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What reasons does August give for holding a vigil for May? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why is Zach released from jail? 
The beehive hairdo was in fashion at the time. This hairstyle still makes an appearance every once in a while. (This annotation contains an image)
Aristaeus is the Greek god of beekeeping. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
Why are bees a symbol of rebirth? 
The catacombs are ancient underground passageways that in some places, like Paris, have been turned into burial chambers. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What story do the ladies tell about the funeral parlor in town? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What did August find by the oak tree? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What sound does Lily hear at May's funeral? 
Quiz #2 

Chapter Eleven

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily miss? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does August tuck into a crevice of the Our Lady statue? 
In this video, The Crystals are singing the song "Da Doo Ron Ron". In the background, notice the racial mix of the audience. (This annotation contains a video)
Mary Day is the Feast of Assumption which is celebrated on August 15th.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Which of the following is not part of the sisters' Mary Day celebration? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What big news interrupts the preparations for Mary Day? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What has Lily decided she must do? 
This is a basic recipe for honey cakes. (This annotation contains a link)
The ceremony they are performing is somewhat like the communion that is done at Catholic mass.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What happens to Our Lady of Chains on the evening of Mary Day? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
Explain how the author creates imagery in the highlighted passage. 
One of the quotations on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." This statement is based on the text of a sermon that he gave on February 4, 1968.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What promise does Zach make to Lily? 

Chapter Twelve

An apiary is a place where colonies of bees are kept for their honey. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What symbolic item do the angels present to Mary? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does August know Lily's mother? 
Robert Frost is famous for poems that deal with themes of nature, life, and choices. Click on the link below to read his poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
To what does Lily compare the secrets she has shared? 
The English poet John Donne once wrote a poem called "No Man is an Island" which explains that none of us is ever alone. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does Lily feel about herself? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What makes August believe that Lily was meant to find the pink house? 
Shirley Temple was a child star in the 1930s. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How did Deborah end up in South Carolina? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why does Deborah marry T. Ray? 
Amnesiacs are people who can't remember anything, even about themselves. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why does Lily claim to hate her mother? 
The South Carolina State Hospital, Bull Street, opened in 1828. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily suddenly realize about the day her mother died? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What lesson does August try to teach Lily? 

Chapter Thirteen

Lily now has a load she must learn to carry. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What do the chains Our Lady is wearing symbolize? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
About what does Lily hope to dream? 
Mercurochrome was a common antiseptic until 1998. It was removed from the market because it contains mercury, which is generally considered poisonous. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
How did Rosaleen know about Lily's mother leaving? 
Fritters are a fried dough. They can be savory, like corn fritters, or sweet, like apple fritters. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily ask August to do for her? 
Before airline travel became so affordable, most people traveled by bus. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
What is ironic about August pouring honey over Our Lady? 
Alexander the Great is rumored to have been submerged in honey at his burial. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What effect does the ritual of the honey have on Lily? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does August bring to Lily? 
The poem "The Sick Rose" is from William Blake's collection of poems called Songs of Innocence and Experience. This poem speaks of the dark side of a dying love.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily see in the picture of her mother? 

Chapter Fourteen

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What is Lily carrying around in her pocket? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
On what is Lily spending all her thoughts and energy? 
A frog closing (closure) is like a button in that one side is a knot that slides through a loop on the other side. They are very decorative. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Where is Rosaleen going? 
This flower has been used in various cultures as a symbol of love or remembrance.  (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What news does Zach share with Lily? 
Rosaleen is talking about the 1964 Presidential election. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What realization does Lily come to during her cleaning frenzy? 
There are Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. August is implying that the cluster of beehives should be the eighth. (This annotation contains a link)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Why does the hive require a new queen in order to thrive? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
According to August, what is the only purpose grand enough for human life? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How did T. Ray find Lily? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What does Lily realize about T. Ray? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Why is T. Ray so upset? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Who really shot Deborah? 
French Provincial furniture has highly stylized legs and carvings. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why won't Lily let Becca touch Deborah's things yet? 
Quiz #3