Hidden Gems: A Series of Unfortunate Events & FREEBIE

Now that Netflix has made A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket into a TV series, the books are making a comeback. Of course, they were wildly popular when they were first published!  The Bad Beginning, the first book in the series, is one of my very favorite books to teach in my classes. My students always loved these books. Although people have told me they use them with 4th grade, I would not use them below 5th unless the students were very high readers. There is a lot of tragedy in the books, as well as a lot of inferences that I am not sure younger students would necessarily catch.
Are you looking for a great novel to read in your 5th or 6th grade classroom A Series of Unfortunate Events:The Bad Beginning, book one, is the perfect book to hook your students. The blog post discusses how the book can be used in your ELA classes.

Summary of The Bad Beginning

This is the book that introduces the readers to the Baudelaire family and the woe that follows them throughout the series. The Baudelaires are very talented children. Violet is a brilliant planner and loves to create inventions. Klaus is an avid reader and is clearly extremely intelligent.  Sunny is a baby, but sadly no one really understands her. She, too, has a special talent that the reader finds out later in the book.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are orphaned when their parents die in a mysterious fire. They are sent to live with Count Olaf - a nearby relative the orphans claim their parents never mentioned. Alas, their predicament becomes even worse when they actually meet Olaf.  His house is dilapidated, and he treats the children very poorly. Eventually, the children figure out that he is really just after the fortune their parents left in a trust. However, they cannot access the trust until they turn 18 - but that doesn't stop Olaf from scheming. The children need to use their special abilities to figure out his plan and stop him.

Teaching The Bad Beginning: Mood, Tone & Vocabulary

This is an exceptional book to teach the literary elements mood and tone. Mood and tone are often difficult for students to understand. With all the tragedy these characters face, there is a lot of mood that could be discussed. I have always found tone to be a little trickier to teach, but these books excel at tone - the narrator just comes out and tells you the books will be sad, that you shouldn't read it because of the tragedy, etc. (That is another great literary device you could discuss, too.) If your students are struggling with mood vs. tone, The Bad Beginning would be a great book for you.

This book is also rich in vocabulary. If you are trying to help your students expand their vocabulary, there are many words to pick in this series! The way the Snicket incorporates the new words is brilliant. He wrote the book in a way that is accessible to readers.  Throughout the story, a high-end word is used and then immediately explained by the narrator.

The best way to decide if A Series of Unfortunate Events is a good fit for your class is to read The Bad Beginning. But I am warning you, once you start you will want to read the whole series!
Learn about A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning and how to use it to teach literary elements.  Freebie included in the post.
If you are interested in teaching The Bad Beginning to your class, I have a FREEBIE with resources for the first chapter in my TPT Store.

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