Pay It Forward
When his teacher sets a challenge to his class to come up with a plan to change the world for the better, twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney’s idea is simple: Do a good deed for three people and ask each of them to “pay it forward” to three others who need help. At first, the plan goes awry, and Trevor’s project seems valuable only as a lesson on the dark side of human nature. But then something amazing starts to happen: a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading beyond Trevor’s small California town and across the world.
Soon a journalist with a story of his own tracks down the source of the epidemic, and makes Trevor a celebrity. Yet Trevor has problems closer to home: he wants his pretty, hardworking mother to see the softer side of his beloved teacher, Reuben St. Clair, a scarred Vietnam veteran who seems to come alive only when he’s in front of his class.
In the end, Pay It Forward is the story of seemingly ordinary people made extraordinary by the faith of a child—a story so powerful it has inspired people around the world to follow its example in their own lives. Anyone who has ever despaired of one person’s ability to effect change will rejoice in this novel’s triumphant message of hope.
Reading Group Guide
Trevor McKinney was not an exceptional student. In fact, as the child of a single mom who worked two jobs and battled alcoholism, he had more strikes against him than most of his classmates when it came to succeeding in school or in life. He was never going to change the world, or achieve anything close to that. But things aren’t always what they seem. An ordinary social studies extra-credit assignment provided the inspiration for Trevor to unleash the seeds of hope and compassion that had taken root in his heart, and nothing was ever the same again. Pay It Forward is the compelling story of one boy’s journey to hang on to hope for change in the world, against all odds.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What was your favorite part of Pay It Forward? Describe.
2. If you were a student in Reuben St. Clair’s class, how would you have responded to him in light of his physical appearance? How did you feel about Trevor’s response to him? What do you think Trevor saw? Why do you think children ofte see more
Articles About This Book
Posted on Off the Shelf
Posted by Catherine Ryan Hyde
When I began seriously pursuing writing (around 1991) I was told that my novels were literary and “little.” I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, except that it seemed to portend that they would remain little known. Somehow I broke out of that...