Books Like Flowers for Algernon

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Do your students love the story of Charlie Gordon's intellectual rise and fall? This lesson will give you several options for books similar to 'Flowers for Algernon' that could stoke your students' motivation to continue reading.

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon is the sad tale of Charlie Gordon, a janitor with an IQ of 68 who undergoes a radical experimental surgery that raises his intelligence level to the peaks of human capabilities. This tragic novel contains science fiction, romance, animals, and some positive lessons about how to treat people with disabilities. If your students read and loved this book, here are some recommendations that should keep them reading.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time treads some of the same ground as Flowers for Algernon. Haddon's book lets the reader view the world through the eyes of a likable character with a mental disability - in this case autism. Both books have protagonists who struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds, though The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ends on a much more positive note. Teen readers will also be drawn to the main character's struggle against unjust circumstances, and more skilled readers will appreciate the way Haddon develops his protagonist by presenting the novel from his uncommon point of view.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Students who have recently read Flowers for Algernon may be interested in the character of Boo Radley from Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Both books are coming-of-age stories in which the main character gains a mature perspective on life. While Charlie Gordon gains his perspective through sudden intelligence brought on by surgery, Scout Finch goes through a more realistic and equally traumatic series of events. She, like Charlie, comes to know that the world is not a kind place, and she also learns some poignant lessons about how to deal with those who have fewer advantages, whether those are economic hardships or mental disabilities.

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