Book Club

Book Club Questions

Create your own book club study of The Butterfly Cage, tailored for anyone interested in a memoir and diverse cultures or parents of Deaf children, Deaf adults, hearing adults, educators, administrators, and advocates of Deaf Education. The thought-provoking study questions are designed to enrich understanding and foster meaningful discussions. Ideal also for interpreters and those in training, this space offers a unique opportunity to explore themes crucial to the Deaf community and beyond. Connect, learn, and grow together in our supportive and enlightening environment.

If you are a college instructor and would like to use this book for your classroom, I have a full comprehensive study available for purchase. Purchase the study guide here.

Woman in a library holding the Butterfly Cage book by Rachel Zemach.

“That was the best book club imaginable.
Thank you so much for joining us. You are dynamic as a presenter/guest.”

Maureen Fitzgerald

    1. While reading the book, what surprised you? Did have any new insights after reading it?
    2. How common do you think the issues described in the book are in public schools in 2023?
    3. What percent of Deaf students attend state schools? What is the proportion of Deaf students in mainstream schools?
    4. What is audism? Give some examples of audism from the book.
    5. Similarly to examining and unpacking racism, can you think of ways in which audism may have affected your thinking, at any time in your life?
    6. (Bonus part of this question: What is the sign for audism? What is the sign for shaking off audism?) Helpful link: Can a movie about Deaf people make hearing people listen?
    7. Beside the philosophy that Deaf children are better off learning English and lipreading and speaking being superior language skills than ASL, what other reason might public mainstream schools want to keep Deaf children in mainstream schools?
    8. What did you learn about cochlear implants from this book?
    9. Hearing parents who do not have connections to the Deaf Community are at a disadvantage when it comes to making medical decisions for their Deaf kids.
    10. In what ways are these parents vulnerable, and why? Have you ever gone into a space where you were completely unwelcomed? What was that space, what made you feel unwelcome, and how did you respond?
    11. Hearing outsiders frequently make the assumption that “hard of hearing” people or those who speak and seem to function well in hearing environments, are “better off” and better equipped to “fit into the hearing world” than those who are profoundly Deaf, non-speaking, fluent in ASL and part of the Deaf community. Did you feel that way originally?
    12. After reading The Butterfly Cage, what do you think now? Are speaking privileges always a good thing, or are there any times they, or the “hard of hearing” label, can backfire (for either adults or children?)
    13. Each chapter begins with a quote. What is your favorite quote and why do you think it was chosen for the book? Does it have special meaning also to you personally?
    14. Was there a place in the book that made you laugh out loud? What part?
    15. Was there a part of the book that made you experience other emotions? What part and why?
    16. On her first day of teaching, Rachel learned six lessons:
      –Air-traffic controls to get students’ attention
      –Having a plan and abandoning it is okay
      –Don’t rush things
      –Eye contact has tremendous value
      –Have an adult model desired behavior
      –Know that this job is going to be hard
      What would your six lessons be?
    17. On page 130 we read about Rachel being the “Queen of index cards”; What would you characterize yourself to be the “Queen/King of _____” and Why?
    18. These days Deaf people and ASL are popping up in the media and Hollywood a lot. Yet in medical and educational settings, audism is rampant. How would you explain this dichotomy?
    19. In what ways do you feel the media impact of Deaf people might make a difference? Or if not, explain why not?
    20. Do you feel the author held back, in her depictions of what she experienced and witnessed happening on the job? Or do you think she showed things in their full reality?
    21. Who do you think might benefit from reading The Butterfly Cage?
    22. Does the book leave you feeling altered in any profound way that might translate to action in your life? Explain.
    Woman holding a copy of Rachel Zemach's book, The Butterfly Cage
    The Butterfly Cage being held by a customer who is reading the book.
    Woman holding a copy of Rachel Zemach's book, The Butterfly Cage
    Woman holding a copy of Rachel Zemach's book, The Butterfly Cage
    Woman holding a copy of Rachel Zemach's book, The Butterfly Cage
      1. While reading the book, what surprised you? Did have any new insights after reading it?
      2. How common do you think the issues described in the book are in public schools in 2023/2024?
      3. What percent of Deaf students attend state schools? What is the proportion of Deaf students in mainstream schools?
      4. What is audism? Give some examples of audism from the book.
      5. Similarly to examining and unpacking racism, can you think of ways in which audism may have affected your thinking, at any time in your life?
      6. (Bonus part of this question: What is the sign for audism? What is the sign for shaking off audism?) Helpful link: Can a movie about Deaf people help hearing people listen? 
      7. Beside the philosophy that Deaf children are better off learning English and lipreading and speaking being superior language skills than ASL, what other reason might public mainstream schools want to keep Deaf children in mainstream schools?
      8. What did you learn about cochlear implants from this book?
      9. Hearing parents who do not have connections to the Deaf Community are at a disadvantage when it comes to making medical decisions for their Deaf kids. In what ways are these parents vulnerable, and why?
      10. Have you ever gone into a space where you were completely unwelcomed? What was that space, what made you feel unwelcome, and how did you respond?
      11. Hearing outsiders frequently make the assumption that “hard of hearing” people or those who speak and seem to function well in hearing environments, are “better off” and better equipped to “fit into the hearing world” than those who are profoundly Deaf, non-speaking, fluent in ASL and part of the Deaf community. Did you feel that way originally?After reading The Butterfly Cage, what do you think now?
      12. Are speaking privileges always a good thing, or are there any times they, or the “hard of hearing” label, can backfire (for either adults or children?)
      13. Each chapter begins with a quote. What is your favorite quote and why do you think it was chosen for the book? Does it have special meaning also to you personally?
      14. Was there a place in the book that made you laugh out loud? What part?
      15. Was there a part of the book that made you experience other emotions. What part and why?
      16. On her first day of teaching, Rachel learned six lessons:
        –Air-traffic controls to get students’ –attention
        –Having a plan and abandoning it is okay
        –Don’t rush things
        –Eye contact has tremendous value
        –Have an adult model desired behavior
        –Know that this job is going to be hard
        What would your six lessons be?
      17. On page 130 we read about Rachel being the “Queen of index cards”; What would you characterize yourself to be the “Queen/King of _____” and Why?
      18. These days Deaf people and ASL are popping up in the media and Hollywood a lot. Yet in medical and educational settings, audism is rampant. How would you explain this dichotomy?
      19. In what ways do you feel the media impact of Deaf people might make a difference? Or if not, explain why not?
      20. Do you feel the author held back, in her depictions of what she experienced and witnessed happening on the job? Or do you think she showed things in their full reality?
      21. Who do you think might benefit from reading The Butterfly Cage?
      22. Does the book leave you feeling altered in any profound way that might translate to action in your life? Explain.

      Want me to join your online book club?

      What I can do?

      Answer questions

      Discuss certain chapters

      Join an online club meeting

      Book club wrap up (last meeting)

      rachelztile@gmail.com

      Rachel Zemach The Butterfly Cage Book Cover - Butterfly Art work
      The Butterfly Cage Logo by Nancy Rourke -Butterfly with hands shaping the butterfly in red, light and dark blue and yellow.

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