The Kite Runner is a moving, poignant portrayal of a privileged child growing up in Afghanistan just as the revolution begins. The protagonist and his father eventually emigrate to the United States, and have to cope with both their past and present issues. Although several scenes depict violent acts, the perspective gained from reading it is extremely valuable and relevant in today’s tumultuous world. This is a multicultural novel, also addressing issues of a class system, and it is a “coming of age” tale as well.
A very extensive list of comprehension questions can be used A) as an ongoing assignment completed as students read, B) to generate quizzes, C) or as a study guide upon completion of the novel. I included 155 questions because there are few study guides available for this book; feel free to pare down as you see fit. Another ongoing reading comprehension check is the quote work, where students respond to significant quotes selected from the text. Also quite substantial (71 quotes total), this can be streamlined.
Several character and relationship analysis assignments will help students keep track of the different characters. Three complete vocabulary units contain excerpts from the text, and the quizzes can be differentiated three different ways: A) Matching, B) Matching with sentences, or C) Write-in definitions with sentences. Students create vocabulary posters to aid in their understanding of the word (assign each student a word to draw); multiples are voted on, and winners are displayed during the test.
A mini-research group project serves two purposes: to provide cultural and geographical background of the novel AND to prepare them for their more substantial research paper to be completed individually. There are four broad topics students can choose for their research papers; a presentation of their findings can be done individually or in groups, whichever you prefer. Other writing assignments include journal topics and a creative writing piece.
Another group activity reviews different topics in preparation for the unit test; students record notes as each group presents, and these notes can serve as a study guide. This same format applies for the character analysis group project. A fun artistic project involves students creating an identity poster comprised of the many facets, talents, and relationship defining them.
Religion plays a role in several ways, affecting many characters in the novel and the conflict between groups. Islam is a sensitive topic in current society—that said, many people are not familiar with its basic principles. If you feel uncomfortable addressing this aspect of the book, it can be eliminated. However, my perspective is this: Fear is often associated with the unknown, so knowledge (a simple definition of basic principles) can be empowering. You can inform parents and/or administration of your intentions before the discussion so everyone is on the same page and misinformation is avoided.
We hope you enjoy this beautifully poignant story, and that your students walk away with a larger perspective of the world and the people in it.