Aram’s Choice teacher’s guide

arams-choiceAram’s Choice

written by Marsha Skrypuch 
illustrated Muriel Wood

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006
New Beginnings Series

isbn: 1550419013 (hardcover) 
isbn: 155041903X (paperback).

Pre-Reading Activities

Look at the cover. What do you think the story will be about? Think of the title and then read the blurb on the back of the book. What do you think “choice” refers to? Have you ever had to make a choice? What were the circumstances? Is choice always about good and bad? What other things can it be about? 

Reading comprehension

pp7 – 11. What do you think it would be like to live like Aram does, in an old army barracks, on an island far from home? Have you ever been far from home? How did you feel about it? How would you feel about living with a group of children instead of with your family? What do you think of Mr. Melkonian’s description of Canada? How would you describe Canada? If you were Aram, would you have put your hand up to come to Canada?

pp12 – 14. In this chapter, Aram is angry. What is he angry about? How would you feel in his situation? If you were Aram, what would you choose to do? How did Aram lose his mother? His father? Who has been looking after him? Does Aram look after a family member?

pp15 – 21. How is Aram’s bath different from yours? How is his quarter different from yours? Who is the king on Aram’s quarter? What queen is on your quarter? Is Aram’s king related to your queen? How does Aram feel when his grandmother visits him? What gift does Mr. Chechian give the boys? Have you ever been given an experience as a gift?

pp22 – 28. How is Aram’s bed different from yours? How is his breakfast different from yours? What is a skiff? What is a cargo ship? What gift does his grandmother give Aram? Why? What do you think Aram is thinking as he waves good-bye to his grandmother? What event surprises Aram just before the ship heads out to the open sea? Have you ever been on a ship? What was it like? Why did the boys hear people speaking Armenian when the ship docked at Marseilles in France? How did the boys know what order to line up in when they got off the ship in Marseilles, France?

pp29 – 33. What does the train compartment look like? How did Aram and his grandmother escape from Turkey? What happens to Mgerdich? What do you think Mgerdich should have done instead? How does Aram feel about what happens to Mgerdich?

pp34 – 35. What happens to Mgerdich in Paris. Who else goes with him? Have you ever been to the hospital? Do you know anyone who has been in the hospital? Share your experiences. How does Aram feel?

pp36 – 43. What are all the new things that Aram and the boys experience on the S. S. Minnedosa? What do you think the other passengers think of Aram and the boys? What do Aram and the boys think of the other people on the ship?
What is their first sighting of Canada?

pp33 – 49. What new things do the boys experience when they first arrive in Canada? Did Aram find gold in the trees? What did he find? How Aram’s attitude towards food different from yours? Describe the train.

pp50 – 55. What new things do the boys experience in this chapter? Why is Mr. Chechian sad? What is Aram’s choice? How do the boys decide to help Mr. Chechian? If you were Aram, what would you do? If you were Mr. Chechian, what would you do?

pp56 – 60. In 1923, it cost ten cents to send a regular letter to Corfu. How much money did the boys give to Mr. Chechian? How much money would it cost if he sent the letters individually? One big letter would only cost a dollar.
What is Mr. Chechian’s promise? How do you think the boys feel?

pp61 – 63. Why is Dr. Vining confused? Why doesn’t Aram tell Dr. Vining where Mr. Chechian is?

pp64 – 69. Has Aram found gold yet? Has he found something else that is perhaps more valuable? What new things do the boys experience? What is Aram thinking about? How do you think he feels? What do you think will happen the next day?

General questions

Why is the book called Aram’s Choice? What choices has he made? If this were your book, what title would you give it? Why? What is Aram’s most valued possession? Compare and contrast Aram’s life in Corfu to his life in Canada.

Character study

Which character in the Aram’s Choice is most like you? Why? 

Self and Society

What have you learned about Armenian history by reading Aram’s Choice? What have you learned about Canadian history? What is one traditional Armenian dish? What is one traditional Canadian dish? Compare/contrast Armenian/Canadian customs.  

Have a traditional heritage day at school. Research one heritage other than your own, and make an appropriate costume to wear. 


The following words are used in Aram’s Choice. Define 5 of them. Use those five in context in separate sentences.


cargo ship


Dominion Day











Find an album of Armenian music and listen to one of the songs. Can you identify any of the musical instruments? Which ones? How is the music different/the same from Canadian music? 


Draw your favourite scene from Aram’s Choice.


Can you name all of the places that Aram traveled through on his journey from Turkey to the Georgetown Boys’ Farm?


What historical facts have you learned by reading Aram’s Choice?

Drama activities

Using at least seven students, act out a scene when the boys are on the S. S. Minnedosa . Once you have acted out the scene, discuss with the class how you felt about your role, and how you felt about the other characters’ roles.

Author: Marsha

I write historical fiction, mostly from the perspective of young people who are thrust in the midst of war.

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