1. Research the stages of grief. List ways in which you can help others cope with grief.
2. Rylant uses symbols throughout Missing May such as Ob's whirligigs, an owl, May's garden, and a crow flying overhead. What do these items symbolize or represent? Find other examples of symbols in the book and decide what abstract ideas they represent.
3. After Summer's mother died, Summer lived with various aunts and uncles until she was taken in by Ob and May. Summer called Ob and May her family. What is a family? What are the characteristics of a family?
4. Rylant uses rural West Virginia as a setting for many of her books because she grew up there and that environment made an indelible impression on her. Think about the environment in which you spent your childhood. Describe the environment in which you grew up as a setting for a possible story.
5. Ob made whirligigs that were representations of abstract ideas or things, such as heaven, fire, hope, death, and May's spirit. Create a whirligig of your own that is a representation of an abstract noun.
6. Compare and contrast Summer's grieving process to Ob's grieving process. How was the process the same? How was the process different?