"Treasure Island" Reading Comprehension Activities

"Treasure Island," written by Robert Louis Stevenson, is a classic adventure tale of a young man's journey aboard a pirate ship in search of great treasure. For a classic story such as "Treasure Island," reading comprehension activities make the difference between reading and understanding. Reading comprehension activities help engage students with the 100-year-old book and further their understanding of the characters, plot and setting.

  1. Character Extension Story

    • Understanding the characters' motivations, weaknesses and strengths is critical to understanding the plot and themes of "Treasure Island." Ask the students to rewrite a section of the book using different characters. For example, describe how Ben Gunn would have behaved and why, if he, not Jim Hawkins, witnessed Long John Silver murdering one of the crew. Applying the principle attributes of a character to a particular event helps students understand the deeper essence of each character and his relationship to others in the book.

    Major Events Timeline

    • Creating a timeline helps students visualize the chronological plot order while understanding the long-term effect of each major event. Provide rolling sheet paper and have the students create a timeline with 10 event points. Students must use their cognitive skills to determine which 10 events are most meaningful. Ask each student how he chose the 10 events for his timeline and why he believes those particular events are meaningful within the larger story.

    Character Goal Chart

    • The goal of each character differs in "Treasure Island." Detailing the goals of each main character helps students understand the individual motivations and behavior throughout the story. Creating a text-based chart with descriptive paragraphs about the personal and material goals of each character is appropriate for advanced readers. Students who are still developing basic reading skills, however, can write a few sentences describing the basic desires of each character.

    Plot Environments

    • The plot of "Treasure Island" spans several settings, from a British docking pier to a ship on the Atlantic. Linking the plot and setting helps students understand how the environments affect the characters and their behavior. For example, how did the crowded, stressful conditions aboard the ship affect discussions of mutiny? Advanced readers can also add paragraphs describing how they think the behavior would have changed in a different setting.

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