Is it ok to rattle someone's bones? What if that person is a pauper? What is a pauper, anyway? Furthermore, why does the phrase "nobody owns" become a name for main character in The Graveyard Book?
The epigraph that opens The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, is an accessible and ready resource for students to explore the idea of theme in a literary work. (A theme is a message or lesson conveyed by a work, and is usually a timeless and universal idea about life, society or human nature.)
This lesson includes a poem (written in 1841), note organizer to guide discussion, discussion questions and possible answers for use by the teacher, vocabulary words and definitions and a fun "ballot" classes can use to consider the complex, layered meanings of the main character's name, Nobody Owens.
The lesson could be adapted for use in grades 6-12. It could be assigned as homework with a follow-up discussion in class. For younger students, the lesson could be led in class by a teacher.
It is not necessary to have a take-home copy of the book to complete the written exercises. An answer key is provided so the discussion could be led by a substitute teacher, if necessary.
In the Common Core standards for ELA, this activity strongly fits with the "Key Ideas and Details" standard:
Reading: Literature - Key Ideas and Details
Grade 6 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details.
Grade 7 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text.
Grade 8 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot.
Grades 9 / 10 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details.
by Sara Hathaway
Mood in The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (Chap. 1) by Sara Hathaway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License