Christopher Boone sets out to investigate the suspicious death of his neighbor’s dog but discovers more about his own family mysteries. Along the way, readers learn about the complex beauty of autistic thinkers.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In “How Autism Freed Me to be Myself,” 16-year-old Rosie King shares her experiences with autism, and why she values the unique abilities that autism has provided her.
Have students read “How Autism Freed Me to be Myself” before beginning the novel to introduce students to autism and the themes of independence and uniqueness throughout the novel. Ask students to consider as they read how Christopher compares to Rosie King with respect to how he views his own mind. What characteristics do Christopher and Rosie share? Students can also read this text after reading the novel to help them assess the novel’s lessons and themes.
In “Coping Mechanisms,” the author explains the difference between adaptive and maladaptive coping mechanisms.
Pair chapters 5 and 11 of “Curious Incident” to introduce students scientifically to the concept of coping with distress, present in these chapters and throughout the novel. How does Christopher cope with unpleasant things in these two chapters? Ask students to consider how Christopher, his father, and other characters cope with the disorder of life throughout the rest of the novel.
Guy de Maupassant was a popular French writer during the 19th century and considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. In this story, a brother and sister mourn the passing of their saintly mother and uncover a shocking secret.
Pair chapter 157 of “Curious Incident” with “A Dead Woman’s Secret” so students can discuss their similar plot devices of discovering family secrets and infidelity through letters. Ask students to discuss how the plots of the story and this chapter are similar, and how Christopher handles the news of his mother’s infidelity in comparison to the Reverend in the story. Why might authors use letters as a means of revealing a secret?
In this passage, Bacon discusses the notion of revenge, why some seek it, and the consequences of this fixation.
Pair chapter 167 of “Curious Incident” with “Of Revenge” to help students understand why Christopher’s father killed Wellington. Ask students to evaluate Father’s justification for killing Wellington based on Bacon’s theory of revenge. Is Christopher’s father justified in his revenge? What does Christopher’s reaction to his father’s act of vengeance reveal about Christopher’s perspective on the matter?
In this speech, Julia Butterfly Hill explains how fear and addiction keep people from achieving their goals.
Pair chapter 179 of “Curious Incident” with “Fear is Simple and Profound” to focus on the theme of overcoming fear. How does fear motivate Christopher in this chapter, and what fears does he overcome? Can students think of other characters motivated or manipulated by fear? Ask students to keep this text in mind as Christopher travels to London in chapters 191, 197, 211, and 227.
In Yrsa Daley-Ward’s poem “what love isn’t,” Ward explores attributes of love not often discussed.
Have students read "what love isn't" after completing the novel in order to focus on the themes of love and forgiveness. Ask students to use the definition of love in the context of the poem to discuss how Christopher's love towards his father develops throughout the story. How do Christopher’s conclusions about love and family align with/differ from the speaker in the poem’s conclusions? How does forgiveness impact Christopher’s love for his father? His mother?