Teaching Students About Stephen King’s “It”


Stephen King’s “It” has long been regarded as one of the most famous works in the horror genre. First published in 1986, this gripping story of fear, friendship, and the power of imagination has captured the hearts and minds of readers all around the world. Since the novel’s success, it has been adapted into a mini-series, and more recently, a two-part film series. This article aims to help educators explore ways to teach students about this iconic story while peeling back its many layers.

Facing Fears: The Underlying Themes

One of the essential aspects of teaching “It” to students is understanding and discussing the underlying themes present throughout the story. For example, fear plays a significant role in shaping characters’ lives and driving their actions. Teachers can guide class discussions on how fear dictates our lives and what we can learn from overcoming our deepest phobias.

Additionally, friendship and unity amongst The Losers’ Club play a crucial part in their victory over the terrifying Pennywise. Teachers can help students grasp these themes by organizing group discussions and assignments about teamwork, empathy, and trust. Students can also delve into how shared experiences – both good and bad – build strong bonds between friends.

Breaking Down Characters

To teach “It” effectively, students must grasp its many complex characters’ depth. The main characters in “It,” known as The Losers’ Club, comprise seven children who each experience different fears, trials, and tribulations. Their personal growth throughout the story provides countless opportunities for discussion and analysis in a classroom setting.

Additionally, Pennywise the Dancing Clown – or It – represents not only fear but also an overarching symbol of evil that preys on vulnerability. Encouraging students to explore Pennywise’s role as an antagonist helps them understand how villains are crafted in literature and the potential real-world parallels they may represent.

Examining World-Building in Derry, Maine

The setting of “It,” the fictional town of Derry, Maine, is crucial to understanding the story’s events and atmosphere. Encouraging students to examine Derry’s dark history, including instances of racism, bigotry, and violence, will help them appreciate how settings can be used to create a narrative’s tone or mood.

Tasks that involve investigating the novel’s vast historical context and subplots will provide students with a more profound understanding of King’s intricate world-building. Drawing connections between real-life places Stephen King took inspiration from can enrich the learning experience.

It and Its Impact on Popular Culture

Concluding lessons by touching on “It’s” impact on popular culture can be an engaging way to wrap up discussions about the novel. For instance, teachers can explore how “It” influenced the horror genre, its notoriety in media adaptations, and Pennywise as an enduring symbol of horror. Moreover, students can discuss other authors who have been impacted by King’s work or have left their mark on the genre.


Teaching Stephen King’s “It” offers numerous opportunities for engrossing class discussion and literary analysis. By addressing themes such as fear, friendship, character development, setting, and its impact on popular culture, educators can engage their students in an immersive exploration of one of the most iconic horror stories ever written.

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