CommonLit Elementary Classrooms Help Students Discover the Magical Power of Reading with Book Pairings for Matilda

Matilda knows there’s magic in reading – help your class discover that magic by teaching the novel alongside these supplemental materials.

Strengthen your student's reading comprehension through CommonLit. Our digital literacy program has thousands of high-quality lessons that will engage your students and meet ELA standards. Additionally, we offer over one hundred Book Pairings for your classroom; this includes high-quality novel instruction supplemented with carefully selected texts. Every Book Pairing is tailored to the specific novel. Pairings begin with information about the new text, where to introduce the text to students, and discussion questions to bring the novel and the supplemental passage together.

In Matilda by Roald Dahl, Matilda Wormwood is ignored by her parents but finds solace in books from a young age. At school, Matilda befriends her teacher, soft-spoken Ms. Honey. Matilda discovers that her brain is so powerful she can move objects just by thinking. She uses her newfound power to help her teacher and scare her horrifying headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull.

A screenshot of the Book Pairing page for Matilda by Roald Dahl

Teach character analysis in your classroom

By identifying character traits in Matilda, students will have a better understanding of the novel. Students can use these supplemental texts to compare characters, identify context clues, and learn how to connect deeply to the text.

The Clever Rabbit” Retold by Chitra Soundar

This retelling of an old folktale features a rabbit who encounters a hungry tiger. Using his wit and a few tricks, the rabbit avoids becoming the tiger's next meal. The tiger walks away from the encounter thinking about how dangerous rabbits are.

Read this folktale after students finish the chapter “The Platinum Blond Man.” Have students discuss the pranks Matilda has played so far. Then, ask students to discuss the rabbit’s actions in “The Clever Rabbit.” Ask students, “How is Matilda similar to the rabbit in ‘The Clever Rabbit?’ What do their traits tell us about the characters?”

Little Yin and the Moon” by Jeremy Yoder

In "Little Yin and the Moon," a little girl named Yin works to remedy a drought. She goes on a long journey and talks to the moon and sun. She convinces the moon not to be sad and encourages the sun to create rain.

This tale can be introduced after the chapter “The Parents.” At this point in the novel, Ms. Honey has tried talking to Ms. Trunchbull and the Wormwoods about Matilda’s incredible intelligence. Have students compare Ms. Honey’s and Little Yin’s characteristics, challenges, and accomplishments. Prompt the question, “How are Ms. Honey and Little Yin similar? What obstacles do they face and how do they try to overcome them?” Ask students to cite evidence of the characters’ determination. Students will find that Ms. Honey, unlike Little Yin, has not yet been able to conquer her challenges.

A screenshot of the beginning of "Little Yin and the Moon"

Help students identify social-emotional themes in Matilda

Matilda is brimming with strong characters that face many obstacles yet never lose their inner sense of goodness. For students to understand the social-emotional context of these characters, pair the novel with these two short stories that feature strong relationships.

Strong for Skeena” by Julia Tozier

In Julie Tozier's "Strong for Skeena," a boy is excited to race with his sled dogs, but his uncle does not think he is ready. When the boy’s favorite dog gets hurt, he has to step up and take care of his dog. The boy knows that his uncle will believe him this time when he says that he is ready.

Read this story after the chapter “The Third Miracle” to lead a conversation about inner strength and helping others. Have students compare Matilda’s and Matt’s reasons behind their actions. Ask the class, “Why is Matilda determined to help Ms. Honey? How is Matilda’s thinking similar to Matt’s in ‘Strong for Skeena?’” The class may identify themes of courage in your discussion or focus on the differences between physical and inner strength.  

Aly’s Discovery” by Jacqueline Adams

In this short story, a young girl struggles with loneliness and boredom after she moves to a new neighborhood. Then, she forms an unlikely friendship with an elderly lady.

Read this story after finishing Matilda to have students analyze the importance of friendship in both texts. Prompt the question, “Why was Matilda’s relationship with Ms. Honey important to both characters? How is the development of Matilda and Ms. Honey’s friendship similar to the friendship between Aly and Ms. Strawbridge in ‘Aly’s Discovery?’” Students may talk about the importance of being kind in their responses.

Next Steps

If you are looking for more Roald Dahl content, check out our book pairing for The BFG.

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

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