You Go First

You Go First
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly

Publisher’s Summary:
Charlotte, twelve, and Ben, eleven, are highly-skilled competitors at online Scrabble and that connection helps both as they face family issues and the turmoil of middle school.

Primary Source Pairing:
Charlotte and Ben are navigating an unknown world: middle school. Fortunately, they have each other and their friendship helps guide the way. Throughout the story, Ben references the Galapagos Island finches, or Darwin’s finches, as he considers the constant evolution, or sometimes devolution, that takes place each day in the act of living, having relationships, and taking risks. Ben introduces these finches on page 15 and uses their evolution as a talisman, of sorts, throughout the book. Ben even tells himself “You are a finch” before his student council speech on page 238. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a set of drawings of finches from Charles Darwin’s book The Voyage of the Beagle where he recorded his observations while visiting the Galapagos Islands. Let the visual evidence of the finch’s evolution begin a discussion about how Charlotte and Ben evolve during the book You Go First.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • How are the finches different? How are they the same?
  • Research why the finches evolved on the Galapagos Islands. Make a connection to what you see in this primary source.
  • How did Charlotte and Ben evolve in the story? Cite textual evidence.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Darwin’s Finches by Gould” primary source: Wikimedia Commons

Additional Resource:
“Darwin’s Finches and Natural Selection in the Galapagos” article available here: