Siddhartha Unit Plan

Instructor: Anthony Cognata

Anthony has taught multiple grade levels in middle school, coached across contents, and has a master's degree in Educational Leadership.

The following unit plan can be used to assist you in guiding students through the process of reading and understanding Hermann Hesse's ''Siddhartha''. Use these lesson plans, activities, and project ideas to make the book come to life for your students.


Siddhartha is a novel written by Hermann Hesse that examines the life of Siddhartha as he goes on a spiritual journey and attempts to discover enlightenment. The novel examines many traditional Buddhist beliefs and grants the reader with new found insight into a religion that very few in the Western world knew anything about in 1922 when this book was originally published.

As the concepts within Buddhism and the novel can sometimes be difficult for children to grasp, we recommend building this unit around lots of pre-reading activities, close reading activities, and projects - all of which offer students multiple chances to comprehend and critically think about the text from different directions.

This unit is meant for high school students but could be adapted for an advanced middle school class.

Pre-Reading - Buddhism and Context

As you get started with the unit, you will want to engage students off the bat and pique their interest in the material. You will also want to provide them with context to help them comprehend when reading the text. The following are a few ideas for pre-reading activities or lesson plans that you might use with your classes:

  • Buddhism Lesson Plan - begin by giving students an overview of Buddhism in general and Siddhartha's life. Many of these topics will be broached again during the reading, and it is useful for students to have prior exposure.
  • KWL Chart - have students complete their own KWL charts, noting what they already know about Buddhism, what they want to know, and what they have learned about it. You may want to have them complete this in an interactive notebook that they keep going throughout their reading - this will make it easy for them to return to fill out the 'what I have learned' section.
  • Sneak Peak Reading - select parts of the novel that you want to read prior to reading the whole novel. Have students interpret those sections and make predictions about what is happening and what will happen. Have them keep these in the same interactive notebook.

Close Reading of 'Siddhartha'

Now that students have a sense of the setting and background knowledge of the novel, you will want to dive into reading with them. There are a number of different ways you can tackle the text, but a few options would be in these Close Reading Activities. The variety of activities allows you to choose different ones for different days or parts of the novel.

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