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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner was a huge bestseller, causing people all over the world to weep. You might weep, too, but not because teaching it is such a hassle. We're here to help you make this heavy book seem a little lighter, so that your lessons can soar.

In this guide you will find

  • activities for students to relate the novel to their own lives and to the lives of Cain and Abel.
  • reading quizzes to make sure students didn't just tell the book to go fly a kite.
  • modern connections about how Afghanistan banned the film…and that time Khaled Hosseini chatted with Stephen Colbert.

You don't have to wait for a windy day to fly this Kite. You just need our teaching guide.

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Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring literature to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: In this activity, students will take a look at an overarching allusion that pervades The Kite Runner—the story of Cain and Abel. This story will help them better understand the relationship between Amir and Hassan. And bonus, this allusion pops us all over literature, so it will definitely come in handy in the future.

Length of Lesson: 1 class period (30-50 minutes) with a little prep-homework in advance

Materials needed:

Step 1: Before assigning the prep homework, give your students a refresher. What do they know about the story of Cain and Abel? Take a minute in class to brainstorm the most important parts of the story. Basically, make sure they get to the whole fratricide thing before having them jump right in for homework.

Step 2: Now that you're sure everyone's on the same page, it's go time. For homework, your students will read several different versions of the Cain and Abel story—everything from the biblical version to an Italian legend.

While they're reading, they should be using their noggins, thinking about—and jotting down quick answers to—the following questions:

  1. What goes down in this story? That's right, just write down what happens.
  2. How is each of these stories different? Is the main premise the same? What changes?
  3. Which story is the most different from the biblical version?
  4. You know where this is going: do you see any bits of the Cain and Abel story in The Kite Runner? Where? How does Hosseini adapt the story for his novel? What changes? What stays the same?

Hint: Students can check out Shmoop's thoughts (and quotes!) on the theme of betrayal in The Kite Runner to get the juices flowing.

Step 3: In class, it's time for some non-judgmental brainstorming. Break the class into groups and have them discuss their notes from the previous night's homework, focusing on the last question. Book in hand, they should flip through the text to the excerpts that exemplify the Cain and Abel story. Even if they're not sure if a particular scene or event fits perfectly with the C&A story, they should discuss it and make a note of it. It could be important. (That's the non-judgmental part of non-judgmental brainstorming.)

Step 4: Get the class back together and have each group share their findings. While they're chatting, write their ideas somewhere that everyone can see them. What's the overarching story in The Kite Runner that reflects the Cain and Abel story? How many Cain and Abel moments are in the book? Make sure the students point to specific examples from the text to back up their arguments.

Step 5: For homework, have the students write a short paper explaining how Hosseini rewrites the ending of the traditional Cain and Abel story. Students may also address the following questions in their papers: 

  • Why do you think Hosseini rewrites the ending? 
  • What are the effects of the Cain and Abel allusion on the novel? 
  • Why do you think Hosseini chose this particular story?

Instructions for Your Students

Everyone loves a good shout-out, right? And biblical shout-outs can be some of the most complex ones there are. 

In this activity, you'll take a look at an overarching allusion that runs throughout The Kite Runner—the story of Cain and Abel—and you'll think about the relationship between Amir and Hassan from a new perspective. 

Oh, and bonus: the story of Cain and Abel repeats itself all over literature, so it will definitely come in handy in the future. Take notes—you'll be glad you did.

Step 1: What do you know about the story of Cain and Abel? Take a minute in class to brainstorm the most important parts of the story. This is Bible 101.

Step 2: Now that everyone's on the same page, you'll take a look at a few different versions of the story. For homework, you'll read several different versions of the Cain and Abel story—everything from the biblical version to an Italian legend.

While you're reading, you should be using your noggins, thinking about—and jotting down quick answers to—the following questions:

  1. What goes down in this story? That's right, just write down what happens.
  2. How is each of these stories different? Is the main premise the same? What changes?
  3. Which story is the most different from the biblical version?
  4. You know where this is going: do you see any bits of the Cain and Abel story in The Kite Runner? Where? How does Hosseini adapt the story for his novel? What changes? What stays the same?

Hint: Check out Shmoop's thoughts (and quotes!) on the theme of betrayal in The Kite Runner to get the juices flowing.

Step 3: In class, it's time for some non-judgmental brainstorming. Split up into groups and discuss your notes from the previous night's homework, focusing on the last question. Make sure you point to specific moments in the book to back up your thoughts. Even if you're not sure that a particular moment or event fits the C&A story perfectly, it's worth mentioning—you never know what you'll find. (That's the non-judgmental part of non-judgmental brainstorming.)

Step 4: Share time! Tell the rest of the class what you talked about, and see how many different ideas you can come up with together. What's the overarching story in The Kite Runner that reflects the Cain and Abel story? How many Cain and Abel moments are in the book?

Step 5: For homework, you'll write a short paper explaining how Hosseini rewrites the ending of the traditional Cain and Abel story. You may also address the following questions: 

  • Why do you think Hosseini rewrites the ending? 
  • What are the effects of the Cain and Abel allusion on the novel? 
  • Why do you think Hosseini chose this particular story?

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Common Core Standards  

The following standards are covered in this course:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.1.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.2
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.3
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE KITE RUNNER?

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Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Study Questions    Characters    Analysis    Facts    Quizzes    Best of the Web    
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