Friday, March 5, 2010

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief is about to come out as a film, which makes me sad as an English teacher. Last year, The Lightning Thief was the cornerstone of our study of Greek mythology. I was able to introduce the Greek gods, teach some history, and teach some amazing myths, all as background to a really fun novel. I don’t like to teach novels that are movies that everyone has already seen, so in a way, it is the end of a really fun unit.

The plot surrounds Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon and a mortal woman, and his quest to retrieve Zeus’ lightning bolt. Author Rick Riordan is a teacher, and it shows. He uses age-appropriate vocabulary and mixes in so many myths that checking out his website is practically essential to be fully informed. I love that the Percy Jackson series excites reluctant readers about mythology—kids plow their way through this series and are very good about correcting all my minor mistakes about the gods. The Lightning Thief is a great way to teach about dream sequences and flashbacks in writing, as well as allusions. Plus, it is a series that has galvanized many teachers into creating excellent units that are available online.

Even if you aren’t a teacher, this is a novel worth reading. It is humorous and touching and clever, the kind of book I wish I had written. Riordan said that it began as telling myths to his son as a bedtime story, and you can really see the love behind it. This would be a fantastic story to read aloud with someone in your life. There is so much conversation that could come out of it.

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