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The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

When my children's lit professor assigned this book, I was not thrilled. I don't want to read a book about a boy who was raised by ghosts. That sort of story doesn't appeal to me at all, but I found myself staying up until 1am trying to finish it. This is a well written story about a boy whose parents are killed when he is a baby and then he ends up getting raised by ghosts, a vampire, and a werewolf. Despite the spooky theme of the book, it actually teaches extremely good lessons. Bod, the protagonist, grows up and becomes his own throughout the story. He learns how to read and write by tracing/rubbing letters on gravestones, he learns about history by the dead people who lived through it, but most importantly, he yearns to learn more. What Bod really wants to do is read and learn as much as he can. This book shows how important education is in a totally different way than most people imagine. I would use The Graveyard Book with upper elementary- no younger than 5th grade- for many reasons. When teaching this book in the classroom, there are obvious lessons you can teach such as figurative language, references, writing styles, etc. But there is so much content that can go beyond that. You could use this to teach about European history (or any history for that matter), early American history, the human body (science), geography, and many others.

If I were teaching this, one of the activities I would do would be to have the students pick out a prefabricated name and birth/death date out of separate piles. I would then have the students do heavy research on that time period (I could give a location if necessary such as the US). They would then write a fictional story about their character and give the character an inscription on a headstone that they would draw. 

 

Lexile: 820L

Grade Equivalent: 5.4

 

Wonderful website I found full of The Graveyard Book resources:

https://sites.google.com/site/theghoulgate/home