The Family Under the Bridge | Christmas Book Unit


Comprehension and vocabulary activities for the Newbery award-winning novel, The Family Under the Bridge written by Natalie Savage Carlson. This book will expose your students to the hardships of poverty and the power that comes with family. The setting: Christmas time in Paris. (I include this as a Christmas book, but it can be used anytime!)

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About the Novel:

This is a story about the Calcet family—a mother and her three children—who end up living under a bridge on the Seine River. Here, they befriend the carefree Parisian hobo, Armand. When two nosy women appear at their makeshift home, and it appears that the authorities have been summoned, Armand takes the family to live with a community of gypsies. Here, they are befriended and their relationship with the old hobo deepens. After promising the children a new home for Christmas, Armand decides his only option is to seek employment, and he manages to get a job as the caretaker of an apartment building, which offers the family a place to stay. Here, they determine to live as one big family, with Armand serving as the grandfather the children never had.


1. 3 sets of reading comprehension questions (multiple choice and short answer)

  • Set 1: Chapters 1-3
  • Set 2: Chapters 4-6
  • Set 3: Chapters 7-7

2. Final Quiz

3. Vocabulary Work

  • Define the 12 words (as used in the book): dilapidated, immense, sedately, urchin, indignantly, twittering, arcade, crag, quay, rakish, chilblain, wrathfully
  • Crossword puzzle (can be used as a vocabulary quiz)

4. Answer Keys

Reading Level: Grades 3 – 5


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