A Child Called ‘It’ Discussion Questions: 5 Exercises

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "A Child Called 'It'" by Dave Pelzer. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for A Child Called “It” discussion questions? How can you better understand the perspective in the book?

A Child Called “It” is about horrifying abuse and it highlights that abuse and neglect are not that rare. A Child Called “It” discussion questions can help you think about Dave Pelzer and how he overcame the trauma of his childhood.

Keep reading for 5 A Child Called “It” discussion questions and the context behind them.

Background for A Child Called “It” Discussion Questions

All the alarming statistics about child abuse and neglect—millions of cases reported each year, killing nearly five children each day—don’t begin to illustrate how victims experience abuse. In A Child Called “It,author Dave Pelzer provides a rare and grisly glimpse into his experience of severe physical and psychological abuse at his mother’s hands. 

In one of the worst child abuse cases reported in California’s history at the time, Pelzer was starved, burned on the stove, regularly locked in the bathroom with a noxious mixture of ammonia and Clorox, and forbidden from speaking to or looking at any of his family members. Through it all, Pelzer maintained an indomitable will to survive that’s a testament to the strength of the human spirit even under the bleakest circumstances. 

From the ages of 4 to 12, Dave Pelzer suffered brutal physical and psychological abuse at his mother’s hands. When he was finally taken from her custody, Pelzer’s case was one of the worst cases of child abuse ever reported in California

A Child Called “It” is Pelzer’s autobiographical account of his experience, told through his childhood perspective; the book is a rare look at the epidemic issue of child abuse through a victim’s lens. This is the first in a trilogy chronicling Pelzer’s experiences—first as a child enduring abuse, then as a teen in foster care, and finally, as an adult rehabilitating from his traumatizing experiences. Throughout them all, Pelzer demonstrates resilience and determination in the face of horrific abuse and adversity. 

Exercises on Overcoming Obstacles

Pelzer’s story of persevering and triumphing through adversity offers inspiration for overcoming any obstacle in life. These A Child Called “It” discussion questions can help you apply this concept.

  • Describe a recent incident when you had to overcome a major hurdle. 
  • How did you maintain the will to persevere?  
  • What’s your biggest takeaway from Pelzer’s story? 
  • How could this have helped you through your recent hurdle? 
  • How can you apply this next time you face a challenge? 
A Child Called ‘It’ Discussion Questions: 5 Exercises

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Dave Pelzer's "A Child Called 'It'" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full A Child Called 'It' summary:

  • How David Pelzer survived horrific abuse at the hands of his mother
  • How victims and survivors of abuse can find support and overcome their painful past
  • Why child abuse may go unnoticed by other adults

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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