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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Animals I Want to See: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Projects and Defying the Odds

1. Though ANIMALS I WANT TO SEE tells the story of a hardscrabble childhood, it simultaneously tells the story of a happy childhood. What moments do you find most haunting and most inspiring?

2. Discuss Tom’s childhood goal of seeing animals from all over the world. What role does his list of animals play, and how does it contribute to his success?

3. The Seeman children think they’re moving to “paradise” at the beginning of the book. How do they adapt to reality, and what does it say about their ability to both dream and survive?

4. What do you think of Tom’s mother’s role in keeping her family together and thriving through incredible hardship? Though she isn’t emotionally effusive, in what ways does her love for her children shine? What do you think about the extent of her sacrifice?

5. Tom asks himself if he has “inadvertently cast his father as a two-dimensional, two-bit player on the stage of my memory.” How does his father affect him in both positive and negative ways?

6. What role does community play in Tom’s childhood --- for example, his friends and neighbors in the housing projects (such as Mr. Noble), the Catholic Church and his teachers? What about his uncles and grandmother?

7. Tom has several significant friendships over the course of the book. Which do you think are most meaningful, and why? How do his choices shift over time?

8. Literature and libraries are important to Tom growing up. Which books or libraries had the most profound impact on you as a young person?

9. After reading THE LITTLE PRINCE, Tom vows never to lose his sense of wonder as he gets older. What role does wonder play in ANIMALS I WANT TO SEE? What role does it play in your life?

10. From an early age, Tom focuses on shaping himself and his future. Do you think this is mostly innate or that he develops the ability through his experiences?

11. As a boy, Tom clearly enjoys hard work and is unusually thorough in performing his manual jobs. He simultaneously lives a life of the mind. How does the combination of these things contribute to his eventual success?

12. Later in the book, Tom decides to do an act of kindness for someone every day, even if it’s something small. What are your thoughts on this practice?

Animals I Want to See: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Projects and Defying the Odds
by Tom Seeman

  • Publication Date: May 14, 2024
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Post Hill Press
  • ISBN-13: 9798888453568