By: Mark Twain Level: Middle School
Teaching Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
No one's childhood is complete without reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer! Teaching this book is always a pleasure--and lots of fun! Students love it, and Twain's wit and wisdom are gold mines of teaching opportunities. Tom's adventures with Huck Finn, Becky Thatcher, and Injun Joe will give you the chance to discuss right and wrong, justice and injustice, fair and not fair. You'll have many examples of figurative language and humor that will help fulfill your state standards requirements.
The teaching resources below will give you many options for helping your students better understand this entertaining and meaningful gem from Mark Twain!
Summary of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Twain’s classic, imaginative story of boyhood follows Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer through their hilarious misadventures. Though less weighty than Huck Finn, the light-heartedness of the story and it’s telling makes this a favorite among teachers and students. From playing pirates on a deserted island to attending his own "funeral," from exploring a bat-filled underground cave to digging for treasure in a haunted house, Tom Sawyer is a genius at getting himself and his friends into and out of sometimes dangerous adventures. When he and his pal, Huck Finn, stumble on a midnight murder, Tom almost meets his match in evil Injun Joe. Joe has hidden a golden, ill-gotten treasure that Tom means to find...if Joe doesn't get him first!
A Brief Biography of Mark Twain
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, led one of the most exciting of literary lives. Raised in the river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Twain had to leave school at age 12 and was successively a journeyman printer, a steamboat pilot, a halfhearted Confederate soldier, and a prospector, miner, and reporter in the western territories. His experiences furnished him with a wide knowledge of humanity, as well as with the perfect grasp of local customs and speech which manifests itself in his writing.
With the publication in 1865 of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Twain gained national attention as a frontier humorist, and the bestselling Innocents Abroad solidified his fame. But it wasn't until Life on the Mississippi (1883), and finally, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), that he was recognized by the literary establishment as one of the greatest writers America would ever produce.
Toward the end of his life, plagued by personal tragedy and financial failure, Twain grew more and more pessimistic--an outlook not alleviated by his natural skepticism and sarcasm. Though his fame continued to widen--Yale & Oxford awarded him honorary degrees--Twain spent his last years in gloom and exasperation, writing fables about "the damned human race."