The greatest fictional detective of all time? There can be only one: Sherlock Holmes. And readers today find themselves just as captivated by the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as generations of readers have before—whether brought to life on the page or on TV and movie screens.
Conan Doyle’s characters are rich and recognizable, from the warmhearted everyman Dr. John Watson to the powerful specter of Professor James Moriarty to the “emotional robot” that is Sherlock Holmes, a uniquely individualistic hero with quirks so undeniable as to, perhaps, be called flaws. Now, at a time when the yearning for heroes can be found all around us in popular culture, from movies and TV shows to the everyday moments elevated to viral status via social media, Sherlock Holmes resonates as deeply with young readers as it did in years past.
The Sherlock Holmes Book, part of our award-winning Big Ideas Simply Explained series, covers the entire canon of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories and uses creative design and infographics to help students and readers grasp key characters, plot lines, cultural references, and elements of literature. Plus, for all you teachers out there, we have a handy guide for use alongside our book.
Here are our top tips for helping students understand Sherlock Holmes in the classroom:
Analyze point of view. Using the sections about Chief Detective Watson in The Sherlock Holmes Book as a launching point, instruct students in small groups to discuss the effect of a narrator who isn’t the main character.
Extend the research. Using the sidebar topics in The Sherlock Holmes Book as starting points, ask students to choose a topic to research, using print and digital sources, and present on that topic to the class.
Get Graphic. Have students choose a Sherlock Holmes story and create a plotline for it that shows the major scenes and flashbacks, as applicable. Then, in groups, have students compare and contrast the plot structure of the stories they chose. Prompt students to refer to the plot timelines in The Sherlock Holmes Book as examples.
Sherlock On-Screen. Assign students a specific Sherlock Holmes story, or ask them to read one widely known in the canon. Then, have them watch a Sherlock Holmes movie or television show of their choice and compare the two versions of the story or main characters, analyzing the strengths of each medium.
Download the teacher’s guide for more creative activity ideas to engage students with Sherlock Holmes in the classroom.
Learn more about The Sherlock Holmes Book.