Things Not Seen Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Use these discussion questions to help your middle schoolers understand the characters, literary elements, and themes of Things Not Seen. Promote critical thinking and effective discussions as you help students analyze this coming of age story.

Things Not Seen Discussion Questions

Discussion questions can help you guide your middle school students in their journey to critical thinking and literary analysis. 'Things Not Seen' by Andrew Clements is a coming-of-age story of a young boy who becomes invisible, and the transformation he and his family undergo as a result. Character relationships develop as the mystery of his invisibility is solved. Literary elements enhance the story's plot. Additionally, the thematic elements can serve as a great way to discuss topics relevant to middle school students' academic and personal lives.

Note: These questions are designed to be used after reading the novel.

Questions about Characters

  • Each person in the novel approaches Bobby's invisibility in their own way. How does Bobby handle the realization that he has become invisible? How do his parents and the Van Dorns react differently to his change? How do their perspectives about this occurrence change throughout the novel?
  • How do the scientific perspectives of Mr. Phillips (physicist) and Mr. Van Dorn (astronomer) help to solve the mystery of Bobby's invisibility? How do the unique perspectives of the other characters help, as well?
  • Who do you think has the biggest role in figuring out why Bobby became invisible? Why? Do you think it could have been solved without each of the Van Dorns? Without Aunt Ethel?
  • How does Bobby change throughout the novel? Do you think these changes are positive? Why or why not?
  • How does the friendship between Bobby and Alicia develop throughout the story? Why do you think they get along so well?
  • How does the relationship between Alicia and her mom change throughout the novel? How does Alicia feel about her mom's role in her life since she became blind? What lessons do Alicia and Mrs. Van Dorn learn through the events in the novel?

Questions about Literary Elements


Symbolism is a method of using a physical component that relates to an intangible one.

  • Why does Mr. Phillips compare Bobby to the Stealth Bomber? Do you think this is an accurate comparison? Does it eventually help them solve the mystery of his invisibility?

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