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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Lesson Plans by Bridget Baudinet

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Lesson Plans | The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Summary


Mark Twain’s classic story of a mischievous small-town boy, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has entertained readers for nearly 150 years. Though set in a bygone era, Tom’s desires for fun and freedom still resonate with young readers today. Twain’s witty prose and the story’s exciting climax help explain why this novel remains a staple in today’s classrooms.

Student Activities for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Include:



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Although published in 1876, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is set before the Civil War, sometime in the 1840s. While Twain certainly does not view this period as faultless, he depicts boyhood in this simpler time with an idyllic sort of freedom. Tom Sawyer lives in a rural community with easy access to woods, water, and caves - the perfect ingredients for an adventure. No factories, railroads, or mail-order-catalogues sully the quiet pleasures of the St. Petersburg community, a place where an old doorknob is enchanting enough to win the heart of the prettiest girl in school. The country setting also provides an ideal locale for Twain to showcase his criticism of the ignorance and hypocrisy of small-town America.

Twain’s social criticism makes his novel a satire, a form of writing that uses humor to criticize something. At various points, Twain employs hyperbole, understatement, irony, and comic juxtaposition to build humor. The result of these comic episodes is often a subtle critique of respected social institutions, including church communities, schools, temperance societies, and the courtroom. Younger students often struggle to pick up on this humor. Providing them with background on the characteristics of satire may help them more readily recognize this device in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.


Essential Questions for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

  1. How does Twain portray adults in the novel? Do you think he is accurate?
  2. What social institutions does Twain criticize in the novel?
  3. How does Tom mature throughout the novel?
  4. Is Tom “bad” or “good”? How does your opinion compare with the opinion of the St. Petersburg community?
  5. In what ways can society’s expectations both help and hurt people?


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•   (English) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer   •   (Español) Las Aventuras de Tom Sawyer   •   (Français) Les Aventures de Tom Sawyer   •   (Deutsch) Die Abenteuer von Tom Sawyer   •   (Italiana) Le Avventure di Tom Sawyer   •   (Nederlands) De Avonturen van Tom Sawyer   •   (Português) As Aventuras de Tom Sawyer   •   (עברית) הרפתקאותיו של טום סוייר /   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) مغامرات توم ساوير   •   (हिन्दी) टॉम सौयर के साहस भरे काम   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Приключения Тома Сойера   •   (Dansk) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer   •   (Svenska) Tom Sawyer Äventyr   •   (Suomi) Seikkailut Tom Sawyer   •   (Norsk) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer   •   (Türkçe) Tom Sawyer'ın Maceraları   •   (Polski) Przygody Tomka Sawyera   •   (Româna) Aventurile lui Tom Sawyer   •   (Ceština) Dobrodružství Tom Sawyer   •   (Slovenský) Dobrodružstvo Tom Sawyer   •   (Magyar) Tom Sawyer Kalandjai   •   (Hrvatski) Avanture Tom Sawyer   •   (български) Приключенията на Том Сойер   •   (Lietuvos) Tomo Sojerio Nuotykiai   •   (Slovenščina) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer   •   (Latvijas) Piedzīvojumi Tom Sawyer   •   (eesti) Seiklused Tom Sawyer

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