The World According to Humphrey

The World According to Humphrey

by Betty Birney

You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That's what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy is it true! There are always adventures in the classroom and each weekend he gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up Sayeh. Humphrey learns to read, write, shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course), and much more. With a lock-that-doesn't-lock and an adventurous spirit, Humphrey's life would be perfect if only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn't out to get him.

With a fresh voice and an engaging, hamster's-eye view of school and families, Betty G. Birney's Humphrey will elicit laughter and a new appreciation for classroom hamsters everywhere.

A Note from the First Lady

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

August means back-to-school and what better way to ring in the new school year than with a good book! This story will take you right to the classroom but from a view you may not have experienced before! Inspired by the real-life pets in her son’s classroom, author Betty Birney wrote this whimsical perspective of a class Hamster named Humphrey.

Humphrey and his classmates will ensure you and your children consider responsibility, honesty and the power of a positive attitude! Maybe most importantly, Humphrey provides a perfect illustration of considering the full scenario before making judgements. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know this big-hearted critter – I hope Humphrey makes you smile as you head back to school! 

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam

First Lady of Tennessee

Fun Family Activities

1. POV: Why does Humphrey see things differently from the other students in Room 26? How might that benefit Humphrey? Think about someone (or something) in your school classroom that might see things from a different point of view than you. Who would that be and how would they experience the classroom differently? What advantages might they have from that perspective? What advantages would you have from your point of view?

2. Responsibility: Ms. Mac says, “You can learn a lot about yourself by taking care of another species.” What do you think she meant? Do you have a pet at home or in your classroom? If you don’t, what kind of pet would you want to own? What is involved in taking care of a pet? Create a chore chart for the care, keeping, and feeding of your (real or fictional) pet. Make sure to include all of the necessary ways that your pet needs to be taken care of. If you do have a real pet, see how many of these tasks you can complete this week! What did you learn about yourself while completing this exercise?

3. Obstacles: Mr. Brisbane decides to build mazes and obstacle courses for Humphrey to run through! He times Humphrey to see how fast he can go and even places treats throughout for Humphrey to grab. To build obstacle courses like this, big or small, you need to use a little bit of math, physics, art, and creativity to make a masterpiece. Try it out yourself! See if you can make an obstacle course for yourself in your backyard or your living room using toys, boxes, or common household items. Race through the course several times to see if you can improve on your time!

4. Further Reading: The World According to Humphrey is a series of wonderful books about Humphrey the Hamster and the view from his perspective – Check out your local library to find the sequels, including Friendship According to Humphrey, Surprises According to Humphrey and Summer According to Humphrey. You might also be interested in the other works of author Betty Birney, author, television writer and award-winner.