August 2015


The Year of Billy Miller

Kevin Henkes

"But I know - and I know everything - that this is the Year of Billy Miller," Papa told his son Billy before he left for his first day of second grade. In search of his own identity and maturity, Billy goes through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the year. One day he's nervous and the next he's happy and surrounded by friends. With some help from his family and a lot of self-confidence, will this year truly be the Year of Billy Miller?


  1. When trying something new, like Billy on his first day of second grade, it is easy to be both nervous and excited. Tell stories as a family about your first days of school and the feelings you felt on those days. How did you deal with your nerves and become comfortable in your classroom? How can you prepare as a family this year to make sure this year’s first day of school is the best day yet?

  2. Billy must learn patience and understanding many times throughout the book. For example, when Billy’s sister pours glitter all over his bat cave project, Papa helps to look for a solution despite Billy’s frustration. Billy changes his attitude about the project, and, in the end, his teacher loves it! Can you think of a time when something didn’t go exactly as you planned? How did you look for a solution and solve the problem? How does your family work together when solving problems? What can you do to support and encourage each other when things don’t go as planned?

  3. One of Billy’s biggest challenges in the book is writing a poem to read at the end-of-the-year show. Despite his efforts to memorize his poem, Billy forgets the words on stage. Have you ever had to present something in front of a large crowd? If you were Billy Miller, do you think you would have been nervous or forget lines? Public speaking can be scary, but it is a great skill to help you in school and in life. Practice reading a story aloud and presenting a poem with friends or family to help become comfortable with public speaking in the future.

  4. As children prepare to go back to school, it is a critical time for them to read every day. It is easy to fall behind in literacy skills without constant practice. Kevin Henkes has written many other chapter and picture books that focus on common problems kids face growing up. When you’ve finished reading The Year of Billy Millervisit your local library to check out other books written by Kenvin Henkes or find books about other topics that might interest you. You can also visit Kevin Henkes' website to find reading and discussion guides for his books!