The first of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, The Lightning Thief, is a great whole-class novel study or read aloud if you'll be teaching Greek history or introducing myths and legends this school year.
Engaging and expertly crafted with pre-teen readers in mind, it's got all the important aspects of the modern world combined with the mythology of Ancient Greece. If you're not convinced already, keep reading to find out more about why I think this is such a great read!
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What you'll find on this page:
An Overview of The Lightning Thief
Before we dive into the instructional pieces of the story, let's start with the basics – a quick plot summary, reading levels, and where to find the book.
Plot summary of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief
Percy Jackson is a relatively normal 12-year-old boy who somehow finds himself in many unlucky situations across his school career. As a result, he's been expelled from six schools already as the story begins… And when his class takes a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it doesn't appear that his seventh expulsion can be too far behind. While on a field trip, something happens! His math teacher transforms into a terrifying monster. Despite this when he tries to talk to his classmates about it, no one has any idea who he is talking about. Only his friend Grover seems to be aware of the situation, and even he isn't saying much.
If things weren't strange enough for our protagonist at that point, Percy's summer vacation is sure to throw things for a loop. That's where the real excitement starts and Percy discovers he's a demigod. Thankfully, he's spending his summer at Camp Half-Blood. There all the other campers are facing a similar reality that they're half-human, half-god. After meeting a girl named Annabeth, Percy realizes his adventures are just beginning.
A series of quests confronts Percy Jackson with powerful monsters from Greek mythology, as the young demigod tries to find out who has been stealing Zeus' thunderbolts and get to the bottom of his other-worldly background.
What reading level is the book?
The Lightning Thief is an award-winning novel and is a Guided Reading level W.
Instruction with this book unit is best suited for middle school readers. That being said, advanced readers in upper elementary will also enjoy the excitement and adventure author Rick Riordan captures throughout Percy's adventures. However, be aware that there is quite a bit of teenage drama included in the text.
It makes a great, high-interest low-cost fiction companion for a unit on Greek mythology. In fact, you can typically purchase the text via Amazon for under $7.
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief: Novel Study Resources and Activities
This Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Novel Study is a must-have resource for educators looking to bring the series into their in-person or distance learning classroom without breaking a sweat.
The easy-to-use daily instruction helps students understand the text. It also targets vocabulary building through highly engaging activities that keep students interested while addressing core standards.
Here's what you'll find in this unit:
- Teacher guides & instructional materials including comprehension objective, key Tier 2 & text-based vocabulary, and tips for using both versions
- Comprehension trifolds designed to provoke discussion about this engaging book (provided in color and black & white)
- Reader's notebook comprehension prompts (matching trifolds)
- Word of the Day text-based vocabulary flipbooks
- Vocabulary word wall cards
- Answer keys for easy grading
- Access to the Google Slides version of the daily assignments for use in digital classrooms
Reading Comprehension Skills addressed in this standards-aligned instructional plan:
Like all book units from Differentiated Teaching, this common core aligned novel unit focuses on skills that students continue to struggle with and often require many practice opportunities to master.
For example, here are some of the skills addressed in this novel unit for The Lightning Thief include:
- Making inferences using text
- Sequencing events
- Identify point of view & its influence on the reader
- Examine the author's use of sensory language
- Analyze text quotes to make meaning
- Evaluate character choice through alternative perspectives
- Identify key themes and support them with text evidence
- Find examples of cause & effect
The Lightning Thief Novel Study focuses on text-based and academic vocabulary
There are over 30 academic vocabulary words referenced in the instructional activities and resources. Of course, these include both general academic vocabulary and skill-specific vocabulary.
A comprehensive set of academic vocabulary is critical. Since struggling learners often lack vocabulary, it is necessary to understand and dive deep into these terms during classroom activities. Therefore, by purposefully including this language and discussing its meaning, you can ensure that your students have an understanding of what's necessary each step of the way.
Here are just a few of the provided academic and text-based vocabulary terms you'll want to include in your lesson plans:
Academic Vocabulary Examples
- sensory language
Why The Lightning Thief is Worth the Read
Looking for a modern take on Greek mythology that won't overwhelm struggling or reluctant learners? This is one of the best series currently available on this topic.
First, the cross-curricular connections to social studies are an excellent hook. Therefore, the book makes a great introduction to a unit on Ancient Greece. In addition, the hero-based plotline and array of characters is great for introducing elements of myths.
This book has been consistently been a hit in my classroom. Not surprisingly, my colleagues report the same. However, it's not just the reading part students love; students have also enjoyed writing their own stories based upon the characters they meet along the way.
This novel would be perfect for any upper elementary or middle school student who wants to read something fun but challenging at the same time!
Finally, here are a few reasons I highly recommend this book:
- The plot is very interesting and keeps students on the edge of their seats. Even reluctant readers can't put this down.
- The series offers rich connections to history and is easy to extend. Pre- and post-reading assignments can cross a number of subjects. This can include having students write their own myth or researching a Greek god to write their own character.
- The first in the series, there are a number of other titles to keep students reading.
- There's a movie that has some significant differences. This makes a great reward and awesome for doing media literacy lessons and making comparisons between text and digital interpretations.
Want to get started teaching with The Lightning Thief?
Available in digital, print, or as a bundle of both, grab it today to get started planning your next novel study with Rick Riordan's hit series.