November 2014


Dear Mr. Henshaw

Beverly Cleary

Dear Mr. Henshaw explores the thoughts and emotions of a sixth-grade boy, Leigh Botts, as he writes letters to his favorite author, Mr. Boyd Henshaw. The correspondence began as a class assignment; however, Leigh is soon writing Mr. Henshaw about his move to a new town, his struggles to make friends, and his feelings about his absent father. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unexpected friendship that will change Leigh's life forever.


  1. Writing a letter takes time, not just to put the words into sentences, but to think about what to express and how to express it. Letters can be persuasive, argumentative, clever, or funny. If you were to write a letter to any author you chose, whom would you write to and what would you say? Be sure to enter your letter in Humanities Tennessee’s Letters About Literature writing contest encouraging students in grades 4-12 to write a personal letter to their favorite author (living or dead). The letter should explore how you feel about their work and why you reacted the way you did during or after reading.

  2. Mr. Henshaw asks Leigh a series of questions on pages 14-30, including Who are you?, What is your family like?, and Where do you live? Take time to think about these questions for yourself and write your answers in a journal entry or a letter to a pen pal, friend, or family member.

  3. Leigh learns to keep a diary in this novel to help him sort out his feelings and reflect on life. If you do not already have a diary or journal, begin one of your own. Commit to writing at least one entry each day or each week. You can be amazed to see what unfolds and what you can learn about yourself!

  4. Mr. Henshaw is a very special person to Leigh. Think of a teacher, family member, or mentor who is special to you. Write that person a friendly letter telling them why they are so special. What are some examples that show how this person influenced your life? Do you have a specific memory? Would you like to thank this person? If you would like to submit your letter to my office, we can share your work on my facebook page.