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Anthem prereading activities introduction FEATURED

Prime your class for engagement and achievement with Anthem pre-reading activities. Even advanced students benefit from an insightful preview when starting an unfamiliar text. Select the introduction lessons / worksheets that best align to your instructional goals.

Anthem Pre-reading Activities Overview:

  1. Introduction Slideshow
  2. Anticipation Guide
  3. A New Society (thought experiment)
  4. Speculative Fiction
  5. Sticker Economics / Share the Wealth
  6. What is Communism?
  7. Cold War Cartoon Conflict
  8. Symbolism Practice

Anthem Introduction Slideshow

The Anthem introduction slideshow provides helpful background information, a preview of the story, and an overview of the learning goals. Before viewing the slideshow, decide if you want students to take notes or to keep the viewing informal.


WRITING PROMPT: Do you enjoy stories about imagined futures, strange possibilities, or hypothetical science? Are such stories just for fun or do they hold deeper importance? Explain your views.

Anticipation Guide

Have students preview theme subjects by sharing personal perspectives.

Anticipation Guide - ANTHEM


THROUGH: (suggested approach)

  1. Respond to the statements on your own.
  2. Identify three statements that you would like to discuss.
  3. Group time: Take turns leading the discussion. Start your turn by sharing your own response.
  4. Share out: Which statement received the most attention from your group?

CLOSING: Which discussion topic generated the strongest response from you personally? Explain.

A New Society (thought experiment)

Anthem introduction worksheet


INTO: Humans are social beings; we tend to live together in societies. The members of a society function based on shared values, expectations, and practices. Societies can collapse and new ways of life can emerge. History shows that societies can change profoundly over time.

Think about the society in which you live. Is it ideal?
What are the biggest problems that you see in our society today? Explain.

THROUGH:  For thousands of years, philosophers, social scientists, and leaders have pondered how to make a more perfect society. Authors and filmmakers explore this idea through hypothetical settings.

We will conduct a thought experiment by exploring original ideas to rewrite society from scratch. You hold the future in your hands. You have been given absolute authority in designing and implementing a new society. You will determine the form of the most ideal society possible. Your society can be small or global, but it should be self-sufficient.

CLOSING: Many nations (including the United States) have resulted from revolutions attempting to create a better society. Is it possible that humans can find the perfect recipe? Why or why not?

Speculative Fiction (short stories)

teaching speculative fiction worksheet


INTO: What do you think life will be like in two or three hundred years? Explain your prediction by providing details about society, government, technology, economy, or ecology.

Anthem takes place in an unspecified future era. Rand speculates on how humanity might live at that time. Anyone can predict the future, but only time will tell who guessed correctly. Nobody truly knows if humanity’s future will be wonderful or horrific.

THROUGH: Anthem is dystopian fiction, a work that imagines a horrible human existence. Other famous works in the genre of dystopian fiction include The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Brave New World. Dystopian fiction, science fiction, and alternate histories fall under the broader category of speculative fiction. Speculative fiction imagines (speculates) what might be under certain circumstances.

  • Fun clip: “Model Citizen” (5 minutes) by David James Armsby – CONTENT WARNING: Violent and unsettling ending!

Let’s read a short example of speculative fiction to get us thinking about the genre.

Suggested readings:

Note: The handout will work with any short work of speculative fiction.

Anthem Pre-reading Activity: Sticker Economics

Sticker economics student activity

INTO: Why are the rich so rich? What are some of the different paths to wealth in our society? (Hint: some ways are based on effort and/or ability and others are not.)

THROUGH: We are going to play a game. This game will serve as an analogy for an important aspect of life: economics.

Economy: a system of inter-related production and consumption activities that determine the allocation of resources within a group. The production and consumption of goods and services that fulfill the needs of the society.

Farms, factories, jobs, workers, bosses, owners, paychecks, purchases, profits, hiring, firing, and taxes are all part of the economy.

The Game:

This is a trivia game. You will answer individually (no helping) to earn the most stickers. On your turn, you will keep answering and earning until you miss a question.

Trivia Questions: (Use any set of test prep. questions, game cards, etc. that you like.)

Round 1: Capitalism (15-20 minutes): Hand out stickers for each correct response. Everyone keeps their own stickers.

Round 2: Communism (15-20) minutes: For each success, a sticker goes in the collective pot to be shared equally at the end.

Class vote: Would you rather keep the stickers from the individual round or the collective round?

This demonstration suggests a basic difference between capitalism and communism.  Do not worry if your understanding is hazy; we will be learning about these systems.


  • Which approach resulted in more stickers for you personally?
  • Which result is better in your view?
  • How is this trivia game an analogy for economics?
  • In what ways is the analogy inaccurate? (E.g., people can start out rich in real life.)

What is Communism?

Anthem preview activity


INTO: Capitalism is the economic system in the United States. Individuals (or groups of individuals) can own land, factories, and companies. Businesses, not the government, decide what to sell and how much to charge. Customers decide what they want to buy. Workers are free to change jobs. The exchange of goods / services occur in a free market.

What objections might someone have to this economic system?

THROUGH: Even though Rand’s dystopian fiction takes place in the future, full comprehension requires more than imagination. You should understand the state of the world when Anthem was written and published (the historical context). The novella was written and published in the twentieth century when two philosophically opposed systems, capitalism and communism, competed for world domination.

Suggested Readings:

Note: Completing the timeline may require additional reference.

Cold War Cartoon Conflict

Cold War Cartoon Conflict - ANTHEM


INTO: Is your mind free to think for itself? Nowadays, messages overwhelm our senses at every turn. The purposes of these messages range from benevolent to benign to insidious.

Who wants to control your thoughts? Think about your life in school, at home, at work, or online. Who directs messages at you? What do “they” want?

THROUGH: Make no mistake, many people are trying to control your thoughts and beliefs.  It may be as simple as your parents trying to influence who you hang out with or as insidious as a multi-national corporation convincing you to adopt a self-destructive habit.

In the 20th century, opposing “isms” (capitalism, communism, and fascism) fought for the hearts and minds of nations and people. Institutions / organizations relied on propaganda, the spreading of one-sided messages.  Propaganda takes the form of articles, posters, slogans, etc. that propagate (spread) a message without concern for fairness or truth.

Despite the easily recognized bias, history shows that propaganda techniques work, especially on people who do not stop to think critically. Propaganda techniques are used by advertisers, politicians, agencies, and companies.

Today we will be watching several short cartoons representing both sides of the Cold War.

As you watch, ask yourself…

What do the cartoon’s makers want me to believe?

What about the cartoon is one-sided, misleading, over-simplified, or inaccurate?

Cartoon Clips:


Anthem Project Ideas FEATURED 2

Symbolism Practice


INTO: Can you think of any literary symbols from famous stories or popular culture?

  • Batman Begins: The bat represents Bruce Wayne, trauma, fear, and mastery of fear. Furthermore, bats are mysterious, predatory, nocturnal, and swift.
  • Frozen: Doors. They represent isolation and freedom as well as Elsa and her emotions. Gloves are another great symbol. Note that the evil Hans (sounds like “hands”) only removes his gloves when he reveals his nefarious plans.
  • The Hunger Games: The mockingjay represents the power of the oppressors, the fragility of the rebellion, and the protagonist. It is a government project that the resistance inverts. Similarly, the oppressors have inadvertently created the heroine.
  • Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The rose possesses many layers of meaning and represents youth, hope, death, appearances, and regret.
  • Get Out: The deer represents helplessness, victimization, and the character Chris.
  • The Godfather: Oranges represent mortality and the fleeting sweetness of life.
  • Inception: The spinning top represents the fragility of the human mind and the precarious line between reality and delusion.

THROUGH: Prepare to study symbols in Anthem by explaining symbolism in a short story.

 Short story suggestions:

Thank you for visiting Anthem Pre-reading Activities / Introduction Lessons.

Expert teachers know that preparing students before reading an unfamiliar text pays significant dividends. If these Anthem introduction activities align to your instructional goals, consider using the comprehensive Anthem unit from TeachNovels. For more ideas for teaching this text in particular, check out the Anthem Unit Plan.