EBH: Are you Smarter than an Eighth Grader?

At my college, we had an open house for local eighth graders earlier this week. The folks in charge came up with a theme of finding the “treasure” of learning, so the different areas of the college gamely went along to do pirate displays about their areas. It was great fun, with some terrific displays and games for our visitors. I always love a chance to dress up like a pirate, wave a sword at people, and threaten to have them all flogged (that just doesn’t fly in the classroom, I’m afraid).

As part of our Arts and Sciences Department table (decorated with props I snagged from my son’s room, including a treasure chest full of books), we had a literary treasure hunt game, for which students could supply answers as they came through the displays. I intentionally chose questions about books I would have read myself were I in eighth grade now (shudder!), using those to help students realize they do know what some of these literary terms mean. What’s a protagonist? Oh! Frodo Baggins! Got it!

Alas, my bar must have been too high, as few students knew ANY of these or were even willing to guess (though the ones that looked the most socially outcast were the best at it). Even the dear creature with her New Moon movie t-shirt hadn’t a clue about two questions related to Twilight. Aside from reminding me, yet again, why I was abjectly miserable for two solid years in middle school, the experience made me wonder, Professor Kirke-like  “What do they teach them in these schools?”

It also made me wonder if our fine Hogwarts students couldn’t whomp out these answers in no time flat. Or, you might want to share the activity with your students, kids, or drinking buddies at the Green Dragon.

In any case, here it is for your enjoyment.  It seemed a shame to waste it on folks who didn’t much care, one of whom declared reading was a waste of his time (time he evidently fills with playing video games). Alas, the nify pirate font didn’t translate. The letters that go where the stars are add up to the answer at the end. Enjoy!


Literary Treasure Hunt

Argh, me hearties!  Answer these questions about popular books and discover a secret message!  You may also dig up a wealth of literary swag!  Fair winds be yours!

1. This author  frequently uses  SYMBOLISM in character names like Hermione, Luna,  Dolores Umbridge, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin.

__.  __.     * _ __ __ __ __ __

2. This PROTAGONIST of the Lord of the Rings undertakes a difficult journey to dispose of the One Ring .

__  __  * __ __     * __ __ __ __  __ __

3. This  worldwide-bestselling author was inspired by a dream to create unforgettable CHARACTERS  like Edward  Cullen and Bella Swan.

__ __  *_ _ __ __ __ __ __    __  __ __ __  *

4. The SETTING for these popular novels.

__ __ __ __ __,   __ __ __ __ __ __  __ *_ __  __

5. C.S. Lewis novel, featuring Aslan, Lucy Pevensie, Mr. Tumnus, and the White Witch ,which often works as an ALLEGORY.

__ __ __      * __ __ __ ,   __ __ __    __ __ __ __ __,  __ __ __   __ __ __

__ __ __ __ __  * __ __

6. The novel City of Ember , which was recently made into a film, is a DYSTOPIA or vision of a flawed “perfect world” that takes place here.

* __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

7. Films like Clash of the Titans, 300, and the upcoming War of the Gods are based in this classic GENRE of ancient story.

__ __  * ___

8. The new Tim Burton film Alice In Wonderland blends the original book with this one, its SEQUEL.

__ __ __ __ __ __ __    __ __ __     __ __ __ __ __ __ __    __ __ __  * *

9. The film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen centers around a team of literary ANTI-HEROES, including this legendary commander of the Nautilus.

__ __ __  * __ __ __     __  * __ __

10. The Hotel Denouement is, appropriately, featured in the denouement of the PLOT of this popular thirteen-book series written under the NOME DE PLUME   “Lemony Snicket.”

__     __  __ __ __ __ __    __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

__  * __ __ __ __

11. This popular novel and basis for a Broadway play  is The Wizard of Oz told from the POINT OF VIEW or perspective of The Wicked Witch of the West.

__ __ __ __  * __

12. An ALLUSION is a reference to history or mythology, like Rick Riordan uses in his stories of this demigod son of Poseidon.

__  __ __ __ __    __ __ __ __ __ __  *

13. This Suzanne Collins Trilogy, to be completed this summer with Mockingjay, uses an unusual strategy by being told in present TENSE.

__ __ __    __ __ __ __ __ __  __ __ __ __  *

14. The ANTAGONIST of this boy wizard is generally referred to as “He Who Must Not be Named.”

__ __ __ __ __   __  * __ __ __ __

15. This Cornelia Funke novel and recent film revolve around the THEME of books literally coming to life.

__  * __ __ __ __ __ __


What author created the in famous Pirate Long John Silver?

__ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __    __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __


  1. StrictlyTopSecret says

    Sorry to hear that the kids weren’t able to appreciate your fun and clever game.

    Maybe if you told them that that author’s museum/death place was featured on last night’s episode of Survivor, they would have had a shot.

    It really is sad to me that many children today see reading as a chore, and read only when forced or when offered ridiculous rewards for doing so.



  2. Laurelkat says

    Together, my 6th grader and I are smarter than an 8th grader! What a fun quiz, though I think our experience was incomplete without a real-life pirate!

  3. Elizabeth says

    Thanks, Laurelkat, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Good for you and the 6th grader!
    Sorry I couldn’t be there in person, but I am considering renting myself out for birthday parties if this whole teaching thing goes south.

  4. Arabella Figg says

    This was such a fun idea! And I love the pic of Pirate Elizabeth, “terror of the literary seas”–aaarrgh! Children’s literary birthday parties; A great idea, basing them on current, popular books–a lot of fun (with some learning) to be had, there.

  5. I’m a retired 7th-8th gr English Teacher who is currently subbing.
    This was a fun and challenging survey, provided you are a reader and your teachers pushed their envelope teaching these literary terms !
    I was blessed to teach students who would have gotten all these
    questions correct ! (Of course the non-readers who “read” the movie could probably do well, and your hope is that this could lone day lead to the book.)
    I feel equally impressed with myself: based on my reading of the actual books or their book reports, I knew the answers to over 12 questions !
    ( I’m soooo pleased the ole brain still works !)

  6. Arabella Figg says

    I commented without actually taking the quiz. I’ve just done so and scored 12 and the secret treasure. I missed #s 6, 10, and 15, as I haven’t read the books or seen the films; the Funke title is simply eluding me. But still…I’m buying my literary eyepatch and gettin’ me a parrot tomorrow.

  7. Karen_St_Louis says

    I got them all! (Been spending a lot of time reading popular children’s books lately, as I’m trying to become a children’s author myself…) I’m sorry you didn’t find an appreciate audience for it at your open house. I think I would have enjoyed it as an eighth-grader, if that’s any consolation.

  8. Professor Ravenclaw says


    For question #14, is the answer Draco Malfoy? Lord Voldemort, Dark Lord, Tom Riddle all do not fit.

    Draco however is not referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named”.

  9. Elizabeth says

    Actually, since the question isn’t asking for the antagonist’s name, it’s none of them (sorry for the hasty, and incorrect-some Ravenclaw I am) response earlier! Let me know if you’d like the word document and key!

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