CommonLit Secondary Classrooms Electrifying Resources to help you teach Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Thrill students by pairing Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with short stories, poems, and non-fiction texts to enhance your novel unit.

The CommonLit library has thousands of high-quality lessons that engage your students and strengthen their reading comprehension. Additionally, we offer over 100 Book Pairings, carefully curated supplemental texts that support high-quality novel instruction.The supplemental texts CommonLit offers are a convenient and engaging way to increase rigor in your classroom. Students will gain stronger reading comprehension skills, increase their ability to make connections across texts, and hit other ELA curriculum targets.

Every Book Pairing is tailored to the specific novel. We share information about the new text, where in the course of the book you may want to introduce the text to your students, and some guiding questions that bring the novel and the supplemental passage together. In this post we’ll go over the following middle school texts we offer to pair with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

The Lightning Thief is a quintessential novel for middle schoolers everywhere. The book follows Percy, a troubled 12-year-old boy that does not fit into society’s role for him. As the novel progresses, Percy creates meaningful friendships, realizes what sets him apart from others is what makes him strongest, and of course, fights monsters! Riordan artfully weaves ancient Greek myths into a modern day setting, creating a fantastical world that is both heartfelt and thrilling.

CommonLit’s Book Pairings for Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Texts that Build Students’ Knowledge of Mythology

There are dozens of actual Greek adventures incorporated into the plot of the Lightning Thief and we’ve selected a collection of relevant myths for sixth graders here. These passages can help students broaden their knowledge of Greek mythology and see both “original” and alternative modern interpretations of these age-old stories.

Theseus and the Minotaur

This Ancient Greek myth depicts a brave prince who sets out to Crete to fight a monster who has been terrorizing the kingdom for years.

Have students read this myth about the minotaur after Chapter 4, when Percy battles the very same minotaur depicted in the myth. Prompt a discussion about heroes with your class. Are there character traits that Percy and Theseus share? Do Theseus and Percy defeat the minotaur in a similar fashion?

A screenshot of the Book Pairing Page.

Chiron, The Wisest Centaur” by Meredith Engel

In this story, Hermes, Messenger of the Gods, interviews Chiron the Centaur about his mentoring of young heroes. The reader comes to understand that Chiron is level headed and morally just as he discusses with ease a prophecy about his own death.

Introduce this text after the class has read Chapter 9, during which Percy has a conversation about his quest with Chiron. With the class, discuss Chiron’s role in Percy’s life. Using the context provided in “Chiron: The Wisest Centaur,” ask students how similar the Chiron in The Lightning Thief is to the Chiron from Greek mythology. Does the story of  “Chiron: The Wisest Centaur” influence students’ opinions of Chiron The Lightning Thief?

Welcome to the Underworld” by Michael A. Signal

In this text, Hermes, the messenger of the gods, tours readers around the Underworld. Michael A. Signal writes in a gripping and irreverent fashion that will engage a middle school audience.

Have students read this short passage after they've completed Chapter 18 of The Lightning Thief, as both selections are about entering the Underworld. Discuss with the class how Percy’s journey compares to Hermes’ own odyssey in “Welcome to the Underworld”. In the short story, Hermes describes Hades and the Underworld at length. Based on this description, ask students to predict what the interaction between Percy and Hades will be like.

Identify Universal Themes in The Lightning Thief

This book relies heavily on ancient fables and myths. We wanted to make some historical and topical connections to similar stories beyond Greek Mythology in order to widen your students' perspective and give them a taste of the universal themes apparent in The Lightning Thief.

The Two Travelers” retold by Maude Barrows Dutton

In Maude Barrows Dutton's retelling of the folktale "The Two Travelers," two men are asked to complete a series of difficult tasks, and in return, receive a reward.

Ask the class to read this folktale after reading Chapter 10 of The Lightning Thief, when Percy survives the first hurdle in his quest. In “The Two Travelers,” one of the protagonists, Ganem, attempts to complete a series of challenges. Why does Ganem attempt these tasks?  How does Ganem’s reasoning compare to Percy’s motivation for embarking on his own quest? Are these two heroes' motivation worth the risk?

Joseph’s Dreams” from Genesis 37, The Old Testament

Genesis 37 is a passage from the Old Testament that contains the story of Joseph, an important figure in the Hebrew tradition. Joseph is his father, Jacob’s, favorite son. In a dream, God tells Joseph he is supposed to become a great ruler. However, his brothers are jealous and sell him into slavery.

Once students finish The Lightning Thief, ask them to read “Joseph’s Dream”. Students will have just discovered that Luke was a villain all along – ask them to reflect on Luke’s betrayal. Why does Luke betray Percy and the gods? Develop a unit on theme with students discussing betrayal in both texts. How do the students think Joseph and Percy feel having a family member betray them?

Delve into literature and compare and contrast themes and stylistic choices

Below is a selection of contemporary literature that allows students to make thematic connections between Percy Jackson and the texts. Ask your students to find similarities between themes and stylistic choices in these texts.

Knock Knock” by Daniel Beaty  

In this poem, the speaker describes his relationship with his father and how he was impacted by his father’s time in prison.

Introduce this poem to compare and contrast the relationship these two protagonists have with their father. This lesson can be taught after students finish Chapter 21 – when Percy finally meets his father. Ask the class, how has the absence of the speaker’s father in the poem affected his life? How does this compare to how Percy has been affected by Poseidon’s absence? Does Percy’s conversation with Poseidon mend bridges?

Screenshot of the first few verses of the poem “Knock Knock” by Daniel Beaty

"The Worst Birthday" From Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

In this selection from the novel, Harry Potter returns to his non-magical family for the summer after spending an exciting year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His family fears his magic and treats him poorly during his summer at home.

Have students read Chapter 9 of The Lightning Thief, when Percy finds out his father is god of the oceans. Then ask students to read the excerpt from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” How do Harry and Percy feel when they compare themselves to those around them? How does Harry’s family treat him? Can his family’s behavior be compared to how the other campers treat Percy? How do these texts highlight the feeling of isolation?

Next steps:

Interested in more lessons about heroes, gods, and monsters? Check out the CommonLit digital library’s Text Set on Mythology.

Looking for more great Book Pairing? Browse the CommonLit Library for more in depth Book Pairings!

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