Teaching With Brian Selznick, Including a Virtual Field Trip
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
The worlds of Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret offer rich possibilities for classroom learning in every area of the curriculum. Read our guide to teaching with Brian Selznick’s award-winning books, filled with rich resources for teachers and students. From a virtual field trip inside the American Museum of Natural History — the setting for much of Wonderstruck — to discussion guides, classroom activities, and interviews with Selznick, it’s all here!
Try these sites to get started:
Virtual Field Trip Classroom Activities
After taking your students on a virtual tour of the American Museum of Natural History, consider these follow-up classroom activities for each of the field trip stops: the wolf diorama, the giant mosquito model, and the Ahnighito Meteorite.
Activities for virtual field trip to the American Museum of Natural History.
Activities from The American Museum of Natural History virtual field trip by Author Brian Selznick.
About the Books
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery. With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning, cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.
Playing with the form he created in his trail-blazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey in Wonderstruck.
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories—Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful, with more than 460 pages of original artwork, Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.
These spellbinding novels provide a bountiful landscape in which to explore many aspects of the Common Core State Standards. Rich in historical and cultural allusions, each one tells a fast-paced, compelling story while providing teachers with opportunities for in-depth explorations in geography, math, vocabulary, social studies, the arts, and character education. Use the prompts for exploring Brian Selznick’s novels with the Common Core State Standards.
As a story told through words and pictures, Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck stands alone. It is neither a graphic novel nor a picture book, but a new form of literature that, until now, had yet to be imagined. After your students read Wonderstruck, there are so many ways to extend the learning. Here are just a few.
The two main characters in Wonderstruck, Ben and Rose, are deaf. Journey with your students to learn more about deaf culture and sign language.
Sections of Wonderstruck are told through notes and letters. Challenge children to create their own stories using notes and letters with this activity.
In many ways, Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick, is about finding a community beyond one’s immediate family. Help children to identify their own communities with a collaborative mural project.
It’s hard to imagine a fictional story that encourages us to revel in the discoveries and mysteries of science more than Wonderstruck. These activities will bring science from the written page to the world of your classroom.
In Wonderstruck, Ben learns that museums evolved from private collections called “cabinets of wonders.” Invite students to learn about the history of museums and create their own cabinets of wonders using items from nature.