In the third installment of Hena Khan’s Zayd Saleem Chasing the Dream series, fourth-grader Zayd is having a great season on the Gold Team. Now that his best friend Adam is playing football and not basketball, he hopes that Coach Wheeler will choose to make him the new team leader. Everything seems to be going according to plan until an injury forces him to look at the game he loves and his role on the team in a new way. With only a few weeks until the championship and his favorite uncle’s wedding, will Zayd be able to bounce back in time?
1. At the end of the first chapter, Zayd comments, “‘I can only imagine incredible things ahead of me.’” How does the reality of what happens next compare with his expectations? What can you learn from Zayd about how to deal with disappointment or setbacks?
2. Explain how Zayd gets injured. What does the doctor tell him about recovering from his injury? How does Zayd react to the news?
3. What does Zayd think is the most difficult thing about being injured? Have you ever been injured? What was the most difficult thing for you? What advice would you give to Zayd about dealing with his injury?
4. Why does Baba say that Zayd should still go to practice even though he can’t play basketball? Why doesn’t Zayd want to go? What do you think Zayd should do?
5. What does Adam do to show Zayd that he is a good friend? How do you show your friends that you support them?
6. Why is Zayd nervous about his team facing the Lightning? Does being nervous impact his actions?
7. What is a dholki ceremony? Why does Zayd’s mother tell Baba and Zayd that they need to attend the ceremony?
8. What happens to Nana Abu at the dholki ceremony? How can you tell that Zayd’s family cares about Nana Abu?
9. Zayd’s favorite basketball player is John Wall; whenever Zayd tries to make decisions, he often thinks about how Wall would handle the situation. What does Zayd realize about the way that Wall leads his team? Is there someone you look to as an example or role model? How have they impacted your choices or actions?
10. When Zayd is injured, how does Coach Wheeler treat him? Why do you think Coach treats him that way? What does this experience teach Zayd about leadership?
11. What does Zayd notice about Sam? Why does he hesitate to give Sam feedback about how to improve his game? Are you comfortable giving your peers constructive criticism? Explain your answer.
12. What does Zayd realize about dancing and basketball as he’s preparing for Uncle Mamoo’s mehndi? Are you surprised by this realization?
13. How do Zara and Zayd trick Nana Abu into getting his exercise? Why do you think Nana Abu enjoys teaching his grandchildren about cricket? Have you ever taken the time to ask the older adults in your life about the activities they enjoyed when they were young? If so, what did you learn? If not, what do you think they might say?
14. Why is Zayd nervous about playing basketball after his injury? How does it impact the way he plays? Have you ever been afraid after an illness or injury? How did you overcome your fear?
15. How does Sam respond when Zayd finally gets up the courage to give him feedback on his game? How do you think you would have reacted if you were in Sam’s place?
16. Why do you think Coach Wheeler compliments Zayd on his leadership skills even though he has been injured and hasn’t been playing basketball? Explain how Zayd demonstrates leadership.
17. What advice does Nana Abu share with Zayd before the championship game? How does this advice relate to the challenges Zayd faces? How could you relate this advice to your own life?
18. If you’ve read the other books in this series, discuss the ways that Zayd changes in each book. What lessons has he learned? What lessons do you think he still needs to learn? If you haven’t read the previous books, predict what lessons he might learn next.
1. In the first chapter, Zayd’s family struggles to assemble a basketball hoop. Why do you think it can be difficult to understand a list of instructions? When do you think video instructions might be more helpful than written instructions? Why do you think that? Working alone or with a partner, prepare your own video tutorial teaching others to do something you know how to do particularly well. Write down the instructions, and then film each other demonstrating the steps.
2. Bounce Back includes descriptions of a Pakistani wedding. Research wedding traditions in Pakistan. What happens during the mehndi ceremony? What happens during the wedding ceremony? Find a Pakistani tradition that you think is especially interesting, and explain its significance and why you like it.
3. Part of Zayd’s preparation for his uncle’s wedding involves preparing a dance to perform for the bride and groom. Explore the phenomenon of Bollywood-style or desi-style dance; a good example is “Ballay Ballay Song” from the Pakistani movie Bin Roye or the video for “It’s the Time to Disco.” Try learning some of the moves before choreographing and performing a dance that would be similar to the one Zayd and his sister created for the wedding. Alternatively, make a playlist of songs that match these two styles and explain how you feel while listening to them. What kind of emotions do they evoke? Describe the rhythms and melodies.
4. After Nana Abu’s heart attack, Zayd’s family tries to get him to eat food that is good for his heart. Research the role diet plays in heart disease. What foods are good for your heart? What foods put a person at risk for heart disease? Name a few foods someone might substitute with others to improve their health.
5. Teams are made up of groups of people who play different roles. Zayd is a team leader, but being a leader is only one role that a person might play. Research the traits of effective teams and the roles that different team members might play. What do you think is your role in a team setting, or what would you like it to be? What are your strengths as a team member?
Guide prepared by Amy Jurskis, English Department Chair at Oxbridge Academy.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Hena Khan is the author of several books including Amina’s Voice; Power Forward; On Point; Bounce Back; It’s Ramadan, Curious George; Golden Domes and SilverLanterns; and The Night of the Moon. Hena lives in her hometown of Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and two sons. You can learn more about Hena by visiting her website at HenaKhan.com.