This curriculum guide offers tested and proven materials for teaching Ender’s Game to students in middle school and high school. It is a book we have found compelling, both as readers and as English teachers. Orson Scott Card creates a world in which children are the key actors in a struggle to save humanity. Students at many levels find the novel accessible. As a Rocky Mountain News reviewer wrote, “While the book was marketed (and intended by the author) as an adult novel, children as young as the protagonist share a fierce loyalty to the book with older siblings, their parents, and even their grandparents.”
Ender’s Game is Card’s best-known book of the six in the Ender Saga, including the parallel novel Ender’s Shadow. Teachers should be aware that the novel includes some violent scenes and offensive language. Although some may object to this, our students have not found these instances to be a problem for them, and they accept them as appropriate within the context of the story.
The elements of Ender’s Game simmered for years in Card’s head. He thought of the battle-room concept at sixteen when, after reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, he wondered how the military would prepare its cadets in years to come. A decade later in 1977, he published a short story called “Ender’s Game.” In 1985, the full-length novel version appeared. In 2002, Card reflected on twenty-five years of writing: “Fundamentally, I’m still telling stories about people caught in impossible moral dilemmas, and I’m still working with the transformation from child and adolescent life-roles into adulthood. I’m still drawn to stories about how communities form, thrive, and die. I suspect I always will be.”
Card’s work has gained recognition from a variety of sources. Both Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, won the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. When Ender’s Game was published, science fiction writer Gene Wolfe predicted that the novel “will still be finding new readers when ninety-nine percent of the books published this year are completely forgotten.” Two decades later, his words ring true: in 1998, Ender’s Game ranked ninth on Locus magazine’s “Best SF Novel Before 1990” list. Ender’s Game has been named as an “Outstanding Book for the College Bound” by the Young Adult Library Services Association; is featured in the “Doctrine, Training, and Tactics” section of the U.S. Marine Corps Reading List; and landed fifty-ninth on the Random House Reader’s Poll of the “100 best novels published in the English language since 1900.”
We have used a number of different timelines in teaching the novel from read-alouds to independent reading. Our students—including those who don’t like science fiction or fantasy—say that Ender’s Game is one of the best books they have read. All teachers adapt ideas to fit their own teaching styles, and our ideas, like those in all of our curriculum packets, can be easily and successfully modified.