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G5-6 Text Set: The Phantom Tollbooth

Milo finds life endlessly dull. Even when a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room, he chooses to pass its gate only because he has nothing better to do. But as he travels through the curious lands beyond the tollbooth, he has many adventures and encounters many strange creatures. In the end, he realizes that in life, there is a lot to do, and even more to learn. This text set explores the themes of learning, travel, character development, and government leaders.

Essential Questions:

1. What can people learn from their experiences?

2. What makes places unique and different? How can an author make you feel like you’re experiencing those places?

3. How is conflict built into a story?

4. How does an author develop a character’s personality?

Click here for the full PDF guide to this text set. 

Paired Text


Maker Moment

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Last year, Izzy Goldstein, 12, learned in science class that we can reduce air pollution by using natural energy sources, such as wind and solar power, instead of gasoline. This made her wonder what she and her schoolmates could do…



Language Learning

January 10, 2019

Learning a new language can be tricky at any age. But in a recent study, scientists have pinpointed the exact age at which your chances of reaching fluency in a new language seem to quickly drop off: 10. Does this…

United States

TFK Explains: The Government Shutdown

January 4, 2019

What is a government shutdown? Government agencies depend on funding from Congress to operate. A government shutdown happens when lawmakers are not able to pass a federal budget to fund these agencies. During a shutdown, some parts of the government…

United States

Happy Trails

November 2, 2018

The chalk-white bluffs rose 300 feet high on either side of the river. To explorer Meriwether Lewis, they looked like the ruins of some magnificent ancient city. “It seemed as if those scenes of visionary enchantment would never have an…



What's Up, Dog?

September 11, 2017

A 3-year-old pit-bull mix named Ninja trots into a lab at Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. She catches sight of the magnetic resonance imager (MRI)—a clanging, coffin-like machine—and leaps happily onto the table. Ninja has been trained to sit still…


United States

Outdoor Adventure

April 15, 2016

A praying mantis, an abandoned baby bird, blooming daffodils. Students and teachers at Glenwood Landing Elementary, in Glen Head, New York, never know what will turn up in the school’s outdoor classroom. The discoveries lead to engaging lessons. “They allow…

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