Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Polar Express

Van Allsburg, Chris (Author/Illustrator)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1985. 32 pages + 1 CD
First published: 1985
ISBN: 9780395389492 (hardcover)
9780547771281 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language, point of view, stance

Awards

Caldecott Medal – 1986
Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book – 1986

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

A young boy is awakened on Christmas Eve by a magical train that pulls up to his home and offers him a ride to the North Pole. The train is filled with children like him, in pajamas, being treated to an endless supply of candy and cocoa. When they arrive at their destination, “a huge city standing alone at the top of the world, filled with factories where every Christmas toy was made,” the boy is singled out to receive the first gift of Christmas. The thing he chooses—a simple bell from Santa’s sleigh—becomes a powerful symbol in this tale about the importance of keeping wonder and enchantment alive, even when we’re all grown up.

Stunning illustrations, both realistic and magical, are double-page spreads depicting the train and the North Pole with intense luminosity, and the nighttime city scenes are softened with gentle snow.

The 25th Anniversary edition comes with a bonus CD recording of the story read by actor Liam Neeson, as well as a keepsake ornament and a special message from the author.

  •  

    Discuss where Santa Claus lives, what he and his elves do, etc. Find the North Pole on a map and research its distance from your school. How long would it take you to get there?

  •  Explore the descriptive language that the author uses. Save some favourite words and expressions on a vocabulary chart.
  •  Write a letter to Santa Claus (if appropriate). List the good things you have done throughout the year. Be sure to include a polite request for a special gift.
  •  

    Research the different traditions associated with and names for Santa Claus around the world. Groups of students could research chosen countries and share their discoveries.

  •  

    Discuss the idea of the North Pole where Santa Claus lives, what is supposed to happen there, the elves, etc. Visit the Web site (close to December 25th) that shows the route Santa is supposed to take as he travels around the world.

  •  

    Arrange a special reading of the story by arranging the chairs of the classroom into a train, and having the students come to school in pajamas on that day.

  •  Explore the descriptive language that the author uses. Save some favourite words and expressions on a vocabulary chart.
  •  

    Research the different traditions associated with and names for Santa Claus around the world. Groups of students could research chosen countries and share their discoveries.

  •  As a whole group, discuss your collective background knowledge of the story, the movie and the author. Watch the movie trailer.
  •  Notice the role of the Hobo. Discuss who or what you think he represents. Write a persuasive paragraph with at least three arguments that support your answer.
  •  What is your opinion on encouraging children to believe in something that is not real? With a partner, find a creative way to share the pros and cons with your classmates. Take a stance and be prepared to defend it.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Visual Arts