NEA Big Read
Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

by Edgar Allan Poe

I would give the world to embody one half the ideas afloat in my imagination.

Edgar Allan Poe, 1848 (Courtesy of the Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia)

Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. Have the students create a photo gallery of Poe’s life and times, including portraits of him and other significant people in his life, title pages of some of his main publications, and important places in his life in cities such as Richmond, Baltimore, and New York. Display the gallery in the classroom or school library.
  2. The interview between the narrator and the three policemen at the end of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is given in summary form. Have the students adapt that scene into a play, and perform it in class.
  3. Have the students locate as many different illustrated editions of Poe’s works as possible. How do these illustrations represent their time period? Have students select sections of the poems and stories studied to illustrate. Work with your visual arts specialist to create a series of images that reflect different aspects of Poe’s achievement. Exhibit student work in the gallery of a Big Read community partner.
  4. Organize a “Poe in the Arts” day, using examples given in the Reader’s guide and others that the students can discover on their own. Exhibit art inspired by his writings, play musical settings of his poems, and show brief scenes from films based on his work.
  5. Show one of the many film adaptations of Poe’s works to the class. (Most of them have been made from his stories, but there are also several of “The Raven”; you can find a list of them by searching for Poe on Many of these movies depart wildly from the originals and are quite campy in nature, so students may have a lot of fun pointing out the distortions.
  6. Stage a public reading of some of Poe’s more dramatic poems (for example, “The Bells,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Raven”) and short tales (“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Masque of the Red Death”).
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