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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Teacher Guide by Kristy Littlehale

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Kite Runner Include:

After 9/11, most Americans could name one thing they knew about Afghanistan: the Taliban. The Taliban came into power in Afghanistan in 1996, and they remained in power until 2001. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Afghanistan was not always ruled by extremists; in fact, they were once a free people with a constitution, and the women had rights equal to those of men. Once Osama bin Laden and the Taliban took over, much of that went away.

Khaled Hosseini recaptures the beauty of Afghanistan, and in particular the city of Kabul, in his novel The Kite Runner. He narrates the troubled journey of a man named Amir, who is haunted by his past and the ghosts of his sins. The novel takes place as a flashback, with Amir remembering his childhood best friend Hassan, and the terrible thing that broke them apart. The novel is not only a history of Afghanistan before the Taliban took over, but it is also a story of redemption. Throughout the novel, Hosseini explores important themes and ideas, including the complications of friendship, the dangers of prejudice and discrimination, the search for redemption, and betrayal.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Ethnic Groups of Afghanistan

The Kite Runner focuses heavily on the disparities between ethnic groups in Afghanistan, especially between the Pastuns and Hazaras. It is the prejudice against Hazaras that leads to much of the ridicule and abuse that Hassan suffers throughout the novel, and creates an inner conflict for Amir that wracks him with guilt and a crisis of conscience.

A great resource that can be utilized for teaching this novel is distributed by Amnesty International.

In Appendix 1 of the above guide, the ethnic groups and their percentages in Afghanistan are broken down for students to get a better sense of the demographics of the country, especially in regards to Amir and Hassan who are Pashtun and Hazara, respectively:


A note about Sunnis vs. Shi’ites: The Sunnis and Shi’te split came soon after the prophet Muhammed’s death, when there was dispute over who should be his successor. The Sunni faction felt it should be someone in Muhammed’s direct bloodline, and in particular his father-in-law Abu Bakr; the Shi’ites believed that Muhammed appointed his cousin Ali, who was married to his daughter, before his death. Because of the split between these two groups, many of their beliefs and interpretations of the Koran differ even today, although they both agree on the core tenets of Islam. The majority of the world’s Muslim population are Sunnis.


Kite Flying and Kite Running in Kabul

Kite flying and running in Afghanistan was an important tradition to the people until it was banned by the Taliban in 1996. It was not only a competition, but a matter of honor and distinction for the competitors, and their runners. Young boys from all over Afghanistan, and particularly in Kabul, would spend care and time designing their kites and embedding glass into the tar wire, to cut their competitors’ kites down out of the sky. When the kite falls, runners set out after the kite. The person to find and retrieve the kite gets to keep it, so the running becomes a competition as well. Typically the last kite to fall is the top prize for the runners. The tradition has made a comeback after the fall of the Taliban, with thousands of kites flying in competitions over cities in Afghanistan each year.

Kite Running in Afghanistan
Create your own at Storyboard That Image Attributions: Preparing the Kites (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackspadesadventures/3955265830/) by Jack Spades' Adventures License: Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) Kite Launch (https://www.flickr.com/photos/afgmatters/4370252086/) by AfghanistanMatters License: Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) Kite Runners Wait (https://www.flickr.com/photos/afgmatters/4369503475/) by AfghanistanMatters License: Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Example

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Essential Questions for The Kite Runner

  1. What is redemption? What does redemption offer people?
  2. Is redemption possible? What kinds of redemption do we see in society today?
  3. What impact do war and violence have on the people who live through it?
  4. What kinds of decisions can lead to guilt?
  5. What is betrayal? How can a person betray a friend?
  6. What kinds of characteristics define a good friend? A bad friend?
  7. Why is it important to stand up against discrimination and prejudice?

The Kite Runner Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Kite Runner Summary


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



The Kite Runner Plot Diagram Example

Exposition

The novel begins in 2001, with the narrator, Amir, alluding to a phone call he received from his father’s friend Rahim Khan. He recalls something that happened in 1975, back when he lived in Afghanistan with his father, his father’s servant Ali, and Ali’s son Hassan. Ali and Hassan are Hazaras, and Amir is Pashtun. Baba, Amir’s father, is a successful businessman, and Amir never quite feels like he can live up to Baba’s expectations for him. He sees an upcoming kite tournament as a chance to make Baba proud.


Conflict

Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul, and doggedly loyal to Amir. Amir is slightly jealous of Hassan’s athletic abilities and his father’s kindness to him. Amir likes to read and write, but Baba has no patience for such things. Amir wins the tournament, and Hassan goes to run the final kite. When Amir goes to search for him, he finds him in an alley with Assef, a local bully who idolizes Hitler. He watches as Assef rapes Hassan, but he is too afraid to intervene.


Rising Action

Amir is ashamed for not helping Hassan, and avoids him. Eventually, he frames him for stealing and while Baba forgives him, Ali and Hassan leave anyway. In 1981, Baba and Amir flee the fighting in Afghanistan for California, where Baba works at a gas station. Amir graduates high school, and meets and marries Soraya, the daughter of a formerly powerful general. Baba dies of lung cancer, Amir becomes a writer, and Amir and Soraya discover they cannot have children.


Climax

In June 2001, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan telling him that there is a way to be good again. Amir returns to Afghanistan to discover that Hassan had a son who is now orphaned after Hassan and his wife were killed. He also learns that Hassan is Baba’s son, his half-brother. Sohrab has been taken by Assef, who is now a Taliban official, and he is being sexually abused. Amir confronts Assef, who beats him viciously until he is saved when Sohrab shoots Assef in the eye with his slingshot.


Falling Action

Amir escapes with Sohrab, who is named after Hassan’s favorite story as a child, Rostam and Sohrab from the Shahnama. Farid brings him to a hospital in Peshawar. Initially, Rahim Khan told Amir that there was a couple who ran an orphanage in Peshawar who would take care of Sohrab, but he soon discovers that no couple ever existed. Rahim Khan was in poor health and has probably passed away. Amir takes Sohrab to Isalamabad, where he finds that Sohrab is withdrawn and afraid of being abandoned.


Resolution

Amir and Soraya agree to bring Sohrab to America, but they are stonewalled by the American embassy because there is no way to prove Sohrab is an orphan. Amir tells Sohrab he might have to go back to the orphanage, and Sohrab attempts to commit suicide. When Sohrab recovers, Amir delivers the news that Soraya’s uncle can get him to America. They arrive in California, and Sohrab remains silent until they go kite-flying one day. Amir offers to run Sohrab’s kite,”a thousand times over,” echoing Hassan’s own words to him.


Plot Diagram for The Kite Runner
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION The novel begins in 2001, with Amir alluding to a phone call he received from his father’s friend Rahim Khan. He recalls something that happened in 1975, back when he lived in Afghanistan with his father, his father’s servant Ali, and Ali’s son Hassan. Ali and Hassan are Hazaras, and Amir is Pashtun. Baba, Amir’s father, is a successful businessman, and Amir never quite feels like he can live up to Baba’s expectations for him. He sees an upcoming kite tournament as a chance to make Baba proud. Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul, and doggedly loyal to Amir. Amir is slightly jealous of Hassan’s athletic abilities and his father’s kindness to him. Amir likes to read and write, but Baba has no patience for such things. Amir wins the tournament, and Hassan goes to run the final kite. When Amir goes to search for him, he finds him in an alley with Assef, a local bully who idolizes Hitler. He watches as Assef rapes Hassan, but he is too afraid to intervene. Amir is ashamed for not helping Hassan, and avoids him. Eventually, he frames him for stealing and while Baba forgives him, Ali and Hassan leave anyway. In 1981, Baba and Amir flee the fighting in Afghanistan for California, where Baba works at a gas station. Amir graduates high school, and meets and marries Soraya, the daughter of a formerly powerful General. Baba dies of lung cancer, Amir becomes a writer, and Amir and Soraya discover they cannot have children. In June 2001, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan telling him that there is a way to be good again. Amir returns to Afghanistan to discover that Hassan had a son who is now orphaned after Hassan and his wife were killed. He also learns that Hassan is Baba’s son, his half-brother. Sohrab has been taken by Assef, who is now a Taliban official, and he is being sexually abused. Amir confronts Assef, who beats him viciously until he is saved when Sohrab shoots Assef in the eye with his slingshot. Amir escapes with Sohrab, but Amir is badly injured. Farid brings him to a hospital in Peshawar. Initially, Rahim Khan told Amir that there was a couple who ran an orphanage in Peshawar who would take care of Sohrab, but he soon discovers that no couple ever existed. Rahim Khan was in poor health and has probably passed away. Amir takes Sohrab to Isalamabad, where he finds that Sohrab is withdrawn and afraid of being abandoned. Amir and Soraya agree to bring Sohrab to America, but they are stonewalled by the American embassy because there is no way to prove Sohrab is an orphan. Amir tells Sohrab he might have to go back to the orphanage, and Sohrab attempts to commit suicide. Amir finds a way to get him back to the U.S. They arrive in California, and Sohrab remains silent until they go kite-flying one day. Amir offers to run Sohrab’s kite,”a thousand times over,” echoing Hassan’s own words to him.

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of The Kite Runner.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Plot Diagram Template
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION

Example

(Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





Copy Assignment

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Character Map Graphic Organizer for The Kite Runner

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!

Use a character map to help track the different characters that are discussed in The Kite Runner.


The Kite Runner Characters Example

Amir

  • Physical Traits: Ethnic Pastun; dark hair and eyes; not athletic

  • Character Traits: Loves to read stories and poetry; makes up his own stories; becomes a writer; guilty and ashamed; desires the love and respect of his father; gets carsick; fearful and timid

  • Quote

    “I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan – the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past – and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end, I ran.”


Other characters included in this map are: Hassan, Baba, Ali, Assef, Soraya, Rahim Khan and Sohrab.

Character Map for The Kite Runner
Create your own at Storyboard That AMIR HASSAN BABA ALI ASSEF SORAYA RAHIM KHAN SOHRAB CHARACTER MAP