The Indian in the Cupboard is a fantasy novel written by Lynne Reid Banks in 1980. Unlike other stories in this genre where authors create entire worlds that can be hard to understand, Ms. Banks has instead created a magical element within a world your students will recognize, making it a good choice for those kids who don’t normally read fantasy books.
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At the beginning of The Indian in the Cupboard, we learn that it is Omri’s 9th birthday. He is upset with his gifts, a used plastic Indian, and an old medicine cabinet. His mother gives him a key she owns that happens to fit the cupboard, so he puts the toy inside and turns the key. That’s when the magic begins.
Omri is amazed to discover that his figurine has turned into a real man, named Little Bear. At first, Omri tries to treat Little Bear like a figurine, but he eventually learns that Little Bear deserves respect.
For a while, he keeps his secret, however, he ultimately shares it with his friend, Patrick. Against Omri’s wishes, Patrick places a plastic cowboy into the cupboard, turns the key, and brings him (Boone) to life. Little Bear and Boone begin to fight, just as Omri feared.
Although he was extremely excited about the magic cupboard, Omri soon learns that Little Bear is very demanding, and he finds being in charge of his well-being challenging. Plus, now he also has to worry about Little Bear’s bride as well as Boone, since Patrick isn’t taking his responsibility seriously. But he’s also come to care for them all.
Can he put his feelings aside and send his friends back to their own time?
When you’re done reading, use these questions to talk to your kids about the book and work on some fun activities together.
- How do Omri and Little Bear act toward each other?
- Was it wise to show Little Bear to Patrick?
- Why don’t Boone and Little Bear get along and what did Omri do to change their feelings?
- What would happen if Omri put all of his plastic toys into the cupboard?
- How does Omri change throughout the book (both good and bad)?
- What is a stereotype and what examples are present in the book?
- If you had a magic cupboard like Omri, what would you put inside?
Activities to go along with The Indian in the Cupboard
2. Prepare some historical recipes and let your kids do a taste test. During our book club, we tried (and rated) these four recipes. Download them here.
- Baked Indian Pudding
- Iroquois Cranberry Bread
- Eastern Woodland Indian Blueberry Fritters
- Three Sisters Stew
3. Try your hand at wampum weaving.
More Book and Activity Ideas
- Make some period food while discussing The Red Badge of Courage.
- Map out the epic journey as you follow along in Around the World in 80 Days.
The girls really enjoyed reading The Indian in the Cupboard as a part of our book club. In fact, Abigail liked it so much that she read the other 4 books in the series.
Have your kids read The Indian in the Cupboard? Did they like it?
Find even more of our favorite books from our book club, along with activities and discussion questions you can use with your middle & high school students.