CommonLit Elementary Classrooms Explore the Magic of Peter Pan with CommonLit Book Pairings

CommonLit’s digital library offers over 3,000 lessons to support your ELA curriculum. Our free reading program also offers over 100 “Book Pairings,” or sets of texts that support high-quality novel instruction. These supplemental texts are a great way to increase rigor and reading comprehension skills as students make connections across texts. For each pairing, we share information about the texts, suggestions for how to introduce them to your students, and questions to promote class discussions.

In this post we’ll be diving into Book Pairings For J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.” One night, Peter Pan flies through the nursery window at the Darling home. There, he meets Wendy, John, and Michael, and flies them to a magical place called Neverland. Together, they go on epic adventures alongside the lost boys, Tinkerbell, and the evil Captain Hook.

Promote Reflection on Growing Up

A major theme throughout Peter Pan is that Peter Pan and the Lost Boys never want to grow up. They believe they can stay young forever as long as they have their imagination. These texts allow students to analyze and reflect how our perspectives change as we grow older.

Growing Down” by Shel Silverstein

In this poem by Shel Silverstein, a grumpy old man called “Grow-up Brown” is encouraged to “grow down” by the neighborhood kids. After joining the kids in a variety of children's activities, he remembers how fun it is to act young.

Read this poem after Chapter 3, “Come Away, Come Away!” to engage students in a class discussion about character traits. In this chapter, Wendy, John, and Michael have just met Peter Pan. Ask, “How are Grow-Up Brown’s actions in ‘Growing Down’ similar to Peter Pan’s? How would you describe the two characters?”

Act Your Age” by Colleen Archer

In this short story, Francis’ aunt and grandmother disapprove of her young behaviors and continuously remind to act her age.

To elevate your ELA instruction, read this short story after Chapter 6, “The Little House,” to have students compare and contrast Wendy and Frances. Have students think about Wendy’s feelings after taking on a motherly role to the lost boys. Ask, “How are Frances’s feelings and actions in ‘Act Your Age’ similar to and different from Wendy’s feelings and actions in this chapter? What do these feelings and actions reveal about the two characters?”

The Clock Man” by Shel Silverstein

In this Shel Silverstein poem,  the Clock Man asks a young child how much he would pay to have more time in life. As the child grows up and changes, so do his answers to the Clock Man’s question.

Read this poem after finishing Peter Pan to discuss the theme of time. Enhance your students' reading skills by encouraging students to reflect on the differences between Peter Pan and Wendy at the end of the story. Ask, “How are Wendy’s and Peter Pan’s perceptions of time different at the end of the story? How is the child’s thinking in ‘The Clock Man’ similar to Peter Pan’s thinking and why? How is the adult’s thinking in ‘The Clock Man’ similar to Wendy’s thinking and why?”

Making Literary Connections Across Texts

Peter Pan is a magical story full of wild and dangerous adventures, but the plots and themes are found throughout literature.The following fictional short stories will help enhance student reading skills by comparing and contrasting characters, their motivations, and author’s craft.

Arriving at the Emerald City” by L. Frank Baum

In this excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends arrive at Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz.

Read this text after Chapter 5, “The Island Come True,” to have students analyze authors’ craft. Have students discuss the details the authors use to describe the magic of Emerald City and Neverland. Ask, “What words and phrases does the author use to create a sense of wonder in this chapter and in ‘Arriving at Emerald City?’ How do these words and phrases help you visualize Neverland and Emerald City?”

Into the Rapids” by Bradford H. Robie

In this short story about perseverance, a young boy named Wyatt falls into a river on a rafting trip. When he realizes he has floated too far away to get help, Wyatt must calm himself down to make it back to safety.

Read this text after Chapter 8, “The Mermaids’ Lagoon,” to have students compare and contrast how Peter Pan and Wyatt react in dangerous situations. Ask, “How do Wyatt from ‘Into the Rapids’ and Peter Pan act similarly and differently in the face of danger? What do these actions reveal about the characters?” Students should describe the ways the characters’ fear and bravery impact their choices.

The Tides of Change” by Victoria Marie Lees

In the story, "The Tides of Change," Marie takes her sister Evelyn to the beach to get their minds off their mom leaving for deployment. When Evelyn gets pulled out into a rip current, Marie quickly jumps into action to save her sister and learns the importance of helping others.

Read this text after Chapter 16, “The Return Home,” to analyze characters’ motivations. In this chapter, Peter Pan made the decision to keep the window open at the Darling house. Ask your students, “How are Marie’s feelings in ‘The Tides of Change’ similar to and different from Peter Pan’s feelings in this chapter? Why do the two characters make very different decisions?”

Next Steps

Looking for more paired texts to support your literacy program? Browse for more CommonLit Book Pairings here!

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