Skills Building: Sterling, Best Dog Ever (PK-2)

Written by and illustrated by Francesca Sanna 

Pre Reading Questions

  1. Examine the cover closely; what do you think this book will be about? What emotions do the illustrations on the cover spark in you? 
  2. What is the meaning of a “refugee”? When you think of the word, who do you think of? 
    • A refugee is defined as “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.”
  3. Our country is made up of many people who are immigrants or refugees and some of us may be or know people who are refugees. If your country was no longer safe and you had to leave, how do you think you might feel? 
  4. When refugees come into the place where we live, how should we treat them? What ways could you make a refugee feel more at home?

Post Reading Questions

  1. What did you feel while reading the book? 
  2. How do you think the characters felt throughout their journey? 
  3. Have you experienced anything similar to those in the book? 
  4. Do the characters in the book remind you of anyone that you know or have seen in other books or movies? 
  5. What are you still wondering about? If you could ask the author any question about her book, what would you ask?

Creative Enrichment Activity: What Goes in Your Backpack? (Pre-K-5)

Overview:  In the book The Journey, we learned about a family who had to leave their home, the people that they loved, and many of their belongings behind. If you only had 10 minutes to pack, and could only bring 10 items, what would you bring in your backpack? What types of items do you think a refugee family might need when they get to safety? Work in groups to make a list of items you think a family might need and brainstorm ways to get these items for them.


Backpack template on printer paper. Download the backpack template.
Brainstorming sheet on printer paper and cut in half, one sheet per partner (Printed on separate paper from the backpack). Download the brainstorming template. 

Duration: 35 minutes (for staff: 5-minute pre-activity setup, 5-minute prep)

5 minutes: Introduce the activity
10 minutes: What would you take in your backpack? 
10 minutes: Brainstorm with a partner
5 minutes: Clean up
5 minutes: Reflect and share


  1. Staff should print templates on printer paper prior to the activity. 
  2. Introduce the activity using the book. 
  3. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When you start the timer, the students should work quickly to decide what goes in their backpack and to draw those items. 
  4. Put students in pairs. With their pairs, they will brainstorm what type of items a newly arrived refugee family might need. They will list these items on the worksheet.  
  5. Clean up the materials. 
  6. Reflect as a group.

Reflection Questions

  • Share the items that you packed in your backpack. Why did you pick these items?  
  • Was it difficult to pick only 10 items in 10 minutes? How did it feel to think about the items that you had to leave behind? 
  • What items did you brainstorm that a family might need when they arrive here?
  • What ideas did you have on how we could get these items? 
  • If you were a refugee and you received a box of items welcoming you to this country, how might you feel?