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A Teacher’s Guide for Grades 9-12:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe tells the story of Aristotle, a fifteen-year-old boy growing up in Texas in the late 1980s. We chose this novel for its heartfelt depiction of friendship, emotional themes: family, culture, self-discovery, identity, and friendship. This curriculum will help students build connections between Ari’s story of self-acceptance and their own experiences growing up.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe traces several months in the life of Aristotle, a lonely fifteen-year-old boy growing up in El Paso, Texas during the 1980s. One summer Aristotle, who goes by Ari, meets Dante, and his whole world changes. Suddenly, he has a friend! But Dante is not your average boy: this smart, funny, and sensitive young man cries, saves hurting birds, hates shoes, and, as Ari eventually discovers, likes boys. Over the course of the novel, Ari must come to terms with his own identity, his complicated relationship with Dante, and his family’s silence around his brother’s imprisonment for a violent crime. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a story of the two boys and their developing friendship, which blossoms in ways neither of them saw coming.

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Our Reading with Relevance teacher’s guide breaks the novel into a series of thoughtful lesson plans. Each lesson is designed to support you to meaningfully explore the social and emotional themes of the day’s reading with your students, inspiring them to read deeply, think critically, talk openly, and write reflectively about topics that matter.

This teacher’s guide includes:

  • A facilitator’s guide with tips and resources for implementing the curriculum.
  • A map of Common Core Standards addressed through this program.
  • Thirteen individual lesson plans, including vocabulary, discussion questions, journal prompts, extension activities, and all handouts.
  • Two assessments to monitor student progress throughout the program.
  • Regular checkpoints to help teachers assess their students’ progress on ELA standards.
  • A culminating essay-writing unit.

Pages: 80
Dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″



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