Volunteers needed in March!   Click here to sign up.
 Site Areas: 
Printer-friendly version   

Orion and the Dark

Last updated Monday, September 26, 2016

Author: Emma Yarlett
Date of Publication: 2015
ISBN: 0763675954
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2016

Synopsis: From School Library Journal:
Young Orion likes to doodle, and his notebook records his scary personal world—big dogs, wasps, girls, the ocean, spiders, heights, storms, and…THE DARK. He's listed many ways to solve his fear of the dark, from amazing inventions to capturing the sun, but at the end of each day, "it's bedtime again." One frustrating evening his nemesis returns in a personal visit. A surprising physical hand pops out as a page extension of the immense Dark greeting young Orion with an invitation to adventure. Orion then begins a time of exploration, understanding, and even enjoyment through visits to the magical shadows of his surroundings while he makes a discovery—"The Dark could be my friend. And nobody (not even me) is scared of their best friend."

Note to readers:
•  This book includes a lot of details in the illustrations. Focusing on reading & looking at all of the asides might interrupt the flow of the story, so be selective. You may want to read through the story first, then give students time later to go through all the funny little parts afterwards.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is something you are scared of?
•  Are you afraid of the dark?
•  Talk about what the speech and thought bubbles are.


•  frightening - being afraid or anxious; terrifying
•  "nooks and crannies" - a small, narrow space or opening
•  wobble - to move from side to side in a shaky manner

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why does Orion hate bedtime?
•  What are things people do so they don't feel afraid of the dark?
•  How could the Dark be fun? Interesting? Magical?
•  How did Orion's feelings about he Dark change from the beginning to the end of the book?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a list & draw your own speech/thought bubbles of things you like, are afraid of, or ideas of how to solve a problem (see Orion's example on the 2nd or 5th page of the book).
•  Use various materials to create a work of art that represents the Dark and how you feel about it (scared, fun, mysterious, magical).
•  Draw a scary pumpkin for Halloween to hang in your home.
•  See examples on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/october-2016-crafts/

Special activities:
•  If the students are comfortable talking about some things they are afraid of, you can have them play a game. Have the students line up side by side, facing the volunteer, then say something that might be frightening (you may want to keep things light-hearted by mentioning funny/scary things like skeletons or clowns) and the kids can step forward.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!