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Activity Overview


The Graveyard Book’s setting, characters, and tone borrow from the conventions of Gothic literature. Have students use storyboards to identify the Gothic elements in the book. Students can make reference to the list below to choose and depict 3-5 Gothic characteristics present in the novel. Beneath each depiction, students should provide a brief description of the element’s connection to the novel.


Gothic Literature Elements

  • Supernatural events
  • Gloomy, decaying setting
  • Subterranean passages, hidden rooms, or trapdoors
  • Mystery and suspense
  • Supernatural beings
  • Curses or prophesies
  • Romance
  • Heroes
  • Intense emotions
  • Shadows, moonlight, flickering candles

The Graveyard Book Gothic Elements

Gloomy, Decaying Setting

It doesn't get much gloomier than a graveyard! Bod grows up among gravestones, coffins, and old bones. The inhabitants of the graveyard walk around in the decaying clothing they were buried in and make use of artifacts left in their tombs. A shadowy, ghost-filled cemetery is the quintessential Gothic setting.


Mystery and Suspense

For much of the book, the identity behind the Dorians' killer remains unknown. The existence of the mysterious Jack and his mission to kill Bod keep the reader in suspense throughout the book.


Supernatural Beings

The Graveyard Book contains all sorts of supernatural beings, including ghosts, ghouls, the Jacks of all trades, and the unique members of the Honor Guard.


Curses or Prophecies

The Jacks of all Trades set out to kill Bod and his family due to a prophecy. In ancient Egypt, a prophet foretold of a child who would "walk the borderland between the living and the dead...if this child grew to adulthood it would mean the end of [the Jacks] and all [they] stand for."


Shadows, Moonlight, Flickering Candles

The graveyard comes alive at night and much of Bod's life is spent in the darkness or moonlight. Bod's special powers enable him to see in the dark without difficulty, so he can effortlessly exist in a world of shadows.


Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 5 (Advanced / Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/9] Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/7/9] Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/8/9] Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new


Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard illustrating Gothic elements in The Graveyard Book.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Identify different Gothic elements in The Graveyard Book.
  3. Describe how the elements contribute to the story.
  4. Illustrate each example with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


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