A Literary Spotlight on Rick Riordan – Writer and Educator

I feel like I should personally thank Rick Riordan for writing a book series that actually got my little brother to start reading – something that astounded me both as an older sister and a teacher! After Mr. Riordan’s success with my brother, I recommended the Percy Jackson series to a few of my students and met with similar results. It compelled me enough to look deeper into why the novels were such a big success, particularly but not exclusively, with younger boys.

The books are written a similar fashion to watching a film or playing a video game. Action-packed, fast-paced, vividly imagined, and from a first-person perspective, they are easy to delve into and enjoyable to read. The humorous tone of the novels helps to keep the students engaged in the story and the similarities of the character Percy Jackson makes the story relatable to students.

From an educator’s perspective, the novels are a gateway to reading and literacy. As a teacher, it is my goal to encourage students to read – whether they read a graphic novel or a novel by Charles Dickens.  

For History teachers, the Percy Jackson series has the added benefit of being a creative reimagining of Greek mythology – a Grade 7 Social Studies unit in British Columbia schools in Canada.

Plus, Mr. Riordan was a teacher in his former life, so he wrote this novel not only with his students in mind, but also co-operatively with his students – as he mentions in an interview about his writing process:

“The [students] really liked it. They had some good suggestions, too. They helped me pick the best title for the book. They also had some good ideas on how Percy should act if he had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). One student helped me refine the way Percy’s sword, Anaklusmos, worked.”

The first novel, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, was also adapted into a film version, starring Logan Lerman, which is great if you’re looking to engage students in a compare/contrast discussion or writing assignment.

And, since it was received well by the students I mentioned it to, I would recommend the Percy Jackson series to students looking for a silent reading novel – especially those who enjoy a good adventure!

Till another post,

K. Heer


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