Percy Jackson and the Hero’s Journey | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M1:U1

Percy Jackson and the Hero’s Journey

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What is the hero's journey? How does knowledge of the hero's journey help to more deeply understand character?  

This unit is designed to build students' background understanding of the archetype of the hero's journey and its continuing significance in modern literature. Students will practice reading closely as they analyze the highly popular novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (780L). Some students may have read this text; this unit pushes them to read "differently": reading closely (with a focus on vocabulary), character analysis, and Percy Jackson as an archetypical hero. In their Mid-Unit Assessment, students will read and analyze a previously unfamiliar excerpt from The Lightning Thief, citing specific evidence about how Percy responds to new challenges and explaining what they can infer about Percy as a character.

During the second half of the unit, students will read complex informational text about the "hero's journey" archetype, and then--through writing and discussion--use this archetype as a lens to understanding Percy's experiences. At the end of this unit, students will complete an on-demand graphic organizer and write a short response in which they read a new excerpt of the novel and explain how Percy's experience aligns with the hero's journey, citing evidence from both the novel and informational text.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What is the hero's journey?
  • How does knowledge of the hero's journey help to more deeply understand character?
  • The hero's journey is an archetypal storyline used over the course of centuries. 
  • The hero's journey helps us to better understand characters in literature and their response to challenges.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. 


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
one per student
ISBN: 978-0786838653, 0786838655
D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths
by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978- 0440406945, 0440406943


Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


Take the class to a local art museum to see the influence of Greek mythology and culture on works of art across the centuries. 



  • Consider coordinating with a Social Studies teacher to study in depth the ways in which myths both shaped and were shaped by wider Greek culture and beliefs. How did myths help to explain the way the world and humanity work? How did Greek mythology influence the beliefs of other cultures? 
  • With a visual arts teacher, students can create their own visual representations of important moments in Greek mythology that they have read.

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