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Book Club Kits: Where the Red Fern Grows

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Wilson Rawls

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Book Summary

A School Library Journal Top 100 Children's Novel. An NPR Must-Read for Kids. Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two dogs. So when he's finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own - Old Dan and Little Ann - he's ecstatic. It doesn't matter that times are tough; together they'll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan's brawn, Little Ann's brains, and Billy's sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters - now friends - and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.

Discussion Questions

Study Guide Questions Where the Red Fern Grows


Chapters I, II, III, IV


1. By what method is the story told?

2. What is the setting of the novel?

3. Who is the main character of the story?  Who are the other characters introduced in this section of the novel?

4. What “terrible disease” did the main character say he had?

5. What did Papa give the boy in place of what he wanted, and what was the result?

6. Why couldn’t the boy have what he wanted?

7. Describe the boy’s plan to get what he wanted.

8. How long did it take the boy to earn money?

9. What was his grandfather’s reaction when the boy told him of his plan?

10. Describe the boy’s journey to pick up his purchase.


Chapters V, VI, VII


1. What is the boy’s name?

2. Describe the events at the depot.

3. Describe what happened as Billy was walking through town.

4. What did Billy encounter while camping that night, and what did he do about it?

5. What did Billy name his dogs, and why did he give them those particular names?

6. Describe what happened when Billy arrived home with his dogs.

7. What did Billy’s parents tell him they wanted to do someday, and why?

8. What was the next item that Billy needed, and why did he need it?

9. Whom did Billy talk to when he needed advice about hunting coons?

10. What did Billy say about his communication with his dogs?


Chapters VIII, IX


1. How did Billy’s parents feel about his hunting?

2. How old was Billy when he went coon hunting for the first time?

3. What did Billy realize about the way his father was talking to him?

4. What feeling did Billy get on his first night of hunting, when Old Dan bawled the first time?  What did he do after he also heard Little Ann’s bawl?

5. Where had the hounds treed their first coon?

6. Describe Billy’s thoughts and feelings when he saw where the hounds had treed their first coon.

7. How did the members of Billy’s family feel about his decision?

8. How did Billy’s grandfather keep the coon in the tree while Billy went home to rest?

9. What interesting news about coonskins did Billy’s grandfather share with him?

10. What was the outcome of Billy’s efforts?




Chapters X, XI, XII


1. What happened to the first coon hide?

2. What did Billy do with the coon skins?  What did he do with the money he made?

3. Describe both of Old Dan’s predicaments and how they were resolved.

4. Describe Little Ann’s predicament and how it was resolved.

5. What did Billy tell his parents about his evening’s adventure?

6. What happened to Billy after he returned home?

7. Billy asked his mother if God answered all prayers. What was her reply?

8. What was the bet Billy’s grandfather made with the Pritchard boys?  Why did he make it?

9. Why did the Pritchard boys refer to the coon as “the ghost coon”?

10. At one point while the boys were watching the dog chase the coon, Billy said he felt good all over. What did he feel good about?


Chapters XII, XIV


1. Why did Billy pay off his bet?

2. What caused Little Ann to throw up her head and whine?

3. Where was the coon?

4. What did Billy decide about the ghost coon, and why?

5. What did Rubin do when Billy asked for his money back?

6. What were the dogs doing while the boys were fighting?

7. What did Rubin do, and what was the result of his actions?

8. What did Billy do to show his sorrow for the incident?

9. What news did Billy’s grandfather tell him a few days after the accident?

10. Who went on the trip?


Chapters XV-XVI


1. What happened on the trip that made Billy feel more grown up?

2. Which contest did Billy enter first, and what was the result?

3. Where did Billy think they should go on their first night of hunting?

4. Where did the hounds run the first coon, and what was the result?

5. How many coons did the dogs kill on their first night of competition?

6. What about the dogs surprised the judge?

7. Why did one of the hunters come around with a small box in his hands?

8.  Where did Billy want to go hunting on the final night, and why?

9.  The judge saw the two hounds stop and stare at Billy at the beginning of the hunt.  What was Billy’s explanation for their actions?

10. What other action surprised the judge?






Short Answer Study Guide Questions Where the Red Fern Grows




1. What was the weather like on this part of the hunt?

2. What did the judge think they should do, and what was Billy’s reply? What did the men finally do?

3. Describe what happened to Billy’s grandpa, including how he was found.

4. What did they do after they had made Grandpa comfortable?

5. Where did the dogs go?

6. What did the rest of the hunters do when they found Billy and the hunting party?

7. Describe what happened when they found the dogs.

8. What happened when they got back to camp?

9. Describe the events when Billy and his father arrived home.

10. What did Billy see his mother doing as he was preparing for bed?



Chapters XIX-XX


1. What dog did Billy think the dogs had treed the night they went to the Cyclone Timber country?

2. How did Billy feel about the animal the dogs had treed?

3. What unusual actions did Old Dan take, and how did Billy feel about it?

4. What animal had the dogs actually treed?

5. Describe the fight between the hounds and the other animal.

6. How did Billy feel about what his dogs had done?

7. What did Billy discover about Old Dan as they were walking home? What did he do about it?

8. What happened to the dogs?

9. What did Billy’s parents tell him at dinner?

10. What did Billy discover the day the family left Ozarks? What was the significance of the discovery?