6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed using it to create a comprehensive book study. Recently I updated the Ruins of Gorlan resources, adding additional material and activities and offering more options for teachers using the book study in the their classrooms. To celebrate the update, I'm pleased to present a new Ruins of Gorlan blog post offering 6 additional books (with a few sneaky extras) for students who loved the Ruins of Gorlan.

6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post

The Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait

I've only read the first in this series (the second is in my to-read pile!) but I loved it as much as I love the Ranger's Apprentice books. It's similar in 'style' to The Ranger's Apprentice - a fictional setting similar to a real-life historical period - and there's some other similarities, but it's also very much its own book, with unique characters and antagonists and completely different adventures.

The king wants to know what lies in the world and he's looking for captains and map makers who can make it happen. Quinn, a 14 year old boy who would prefer a quiet farm life, is chosen as one of the map makers.

This would be a great read aloud book, as well as working as a whole class or small group novel study. It could be easily connected to the ideas of map making and explorers around the world and could definitely lead to some interesting discussions amongst students.

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

If you're looking for a book which combines fantasy and adventure, it's hard to go past The Hobbit. The tale of Bilbo Baggins who sets off on an unexpected adventure with a group of dwarves is a classic for a reason. Although it goes more into the fantasy side of things than The Ruins of Gorlan, it balances it nicely with adventure - making it a easier read for those students who make not have a lot of experience with the fantasy genre. 

The Hobbit is a great book as a read aloud (prepare your voice for the Gollum chapter), a small group or recommended as a reader's workshop novel. Students who finish with The Hobbit may like to go on and explore The Lord of the Rings.

6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

The Ruins of Gorlan is set in a time period and place which which obviously meant to reflect medieval England. For a different look at the medieval world, students may like to explore Catherine, Called Birdy, a diary style book which examines the life of the daughter of a knight. It explores the social history of medieval life and the pressures on young girls to be married.

This would make a fascinating comparison piece with The Ruins of Gorlan. Students could discuss why John Flanagan chose to be inspired by the medieval time period while making changes, especially in the way women are treated. I think this book would be especially effective in small group discussions.

Castle by David Macaulay

For a different way of looking at the medieval world, students may like to examine Castle, a picture book which combines drawings of a fictional castle (based on detailed research) with descriptions of the construction process. This would be a brilliant book to combine with STEM activities, as students explore the different elements which go into making up a castle. This additional knowledge may also provide more context for some parts of The Ruins of Gorlan or assist students in picturing events in The Ruins of Gorlan more clearly.

6 Exciting Books for Students Who Love The Ruins of Gorlan. A list of great books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief tells the story of Gen, a thief who is released from prison to assist the magus - the King's scholar. It's an excellent adventure book, with a main character who demonstrates intelligence, skill and bravery, when required - much like Will in The Ruins of Gorlan. It also demonstrates influences from historical cultures - something which would be fascinating for students to explore. This would work particularly well as an option in Reader's Workshop (especially with a good book talk) or as a read aloud book for the whole class or a small group.

Other Ranger's Apprentice books and The Brotherband Series by John Flanagan

It feels a little like cheating to include these, but they are a must read for any fans of The Ruins of Gorlan. The Ranger's Apprentice is not a strictly chronological series - the books are often gathered together in twos or threes (though there are some stand alones and a collection of short stories) and they jump forward and backward around Will's life. There's a lot in them to explore and lots of students will be caught up in the adventures of Will, Halt and their friends.

Brotherband goes off to the land of Skandia - a land we meet in the second, third and fourth Ranger's Apprentice books - and continues the adventures in a slightly different way.

Both series are great to have available - either in the classroom library or the school library - for when students have finished reading The Ruins of Gorlan. Alternatively, you may like to help a small group of Ruins of Gorlan fans conduct their own book study on one or more of the Ranger's Apprentice series when they're finished with the first book.

Related posts to read:


What Was New in June 2017?

We're halfway through 2017! I'm a little amazed at how quickly the last 6 months has gone - I'm pretty sure we only just got through Christmas!

So what happened in June 2017?

What was new at Galarious Goods in June 2017

June was all about law making in Australia - where do the ideas for them come from and how are they passed through Parliament and applied? As well as the two mini units, there's a lesson excerpt (perfect if you just want to concentrate on the passage of a bill through parliament), a mini-unit bundle, word wall and posters and assessment resources, as well as a complete bundle. It was a real learning experience putting these together - I never thought I'd read a parliamentary handbook before this!

Galarious Goods Creating Laws (Year 6 Civics and Citizenship)

I also updated the Ranger's Apprentice resources - comprehension and vocabulary, research tasks, character tasks and whole novel activities - as well as the US Bundle and the UK Bundle. These are so much more comprehensive, with a greater range of activities for the classroom. It's also been a great excuse to dip back into the Ranger's Apprentice books.

Ranger's Apprentice Novel Study by Galarious Goods

Another update was the Classroom Library Explorations Activities. These three activities now have new options, task cards and a cleaner look as well as a US Letter Paper option.


In the blogging world, I've looked at activities which allow you to explore Nim's Island out of the classroom, 9 books to read if you like Nim's Island, 3 ways to investigate stereotypes using the Nim's Island movie, and I've shared a post about Galarious Goods' first birthday and celebrating learning in the classroom. I've also created my first video talking about fitting in celebrations in the library - I shared it on the Galarious Goods facebook page first, then uploaded it onto YouTube - so it's easy to find! I'm really looking forward to making more videos in the future.



Behind the Scenes

We're enjoying school holidays here at the moment - with park visits and lots of library time. We're also planning for a 5 year old birthday party early next month - with a Go-Jetters, all around the world theme!

I've been working on a book study for Mem Fox's I'm Australian Too - it's a picture book, but there's a huge amount for middle grade students to explore. It also connects nicely with Australian and Global citizenship - the next Year 6 civics and citizenship unit.

Keep an eye on Instagram for more updates!

Hope you have had a great June and you've got a great July on the way!


What Was New in May 2017?

A new month! New things! New resources! But first let's take a look back at May.

What was new in May 2017 at Galarious Goods? A look at new resources, blog posts and behind the scenes

May was the month I delved deep into Australian political and electoral systems to produce some Year 6 resources. I started by looking at the three levels of government in Australia - local, state and federal - and their responsibilities. Because all that can be a little fuzzy (roads is just one area where everyone gets involved!) I also looked at how the three levels of government work together. (I loved putting case studies together for this. I feel very informed about the amazing Murray-Darling Basin now!). There are also assessment and word wall and poster resources to support the mini-units or you can get them all in one bundle.

This was followed up with resources covering the responsibilities of voters and elected representatives in Australia, which is a real mouthful, but at the key of our democratic responsibilities. I was especially interested in the potential conflicts between serving a political party, serving a local area and serving a state or Australia - that's a lot of balancing to do! Again, these are available with word wall and posters and assessment pieces and as a complete bundle.

Finally, I released a Nim's Island Sample Pack freebie. This is a great way to have a look at the Nim's Island novel study resources for free.


I've also been busy blogging. I started off the month collaborating with some other great teacher-authors to produce a blog post about the TeachersPayTeachers sales. I dug deeper into ideas around getting involved by looking at five inspirational young people who've set out to make a change in the world. I also looked at some of the places where students can find information to help them get involved. Finally I introduced Nim's Island as a novel study resource and had a look at some of the ways it can be used in the classroom.

Behind the Scenes

 It's getting cold in Queensland! Well, cold on the Queensland scale! We've been enjoying the beautiful blue skies with trips to see family, park visits and plans to adventure to the city in the coming school holidays. 

I've been working hard on updating some of my old resources, beginning with my Ruins of Gorlan novel study resources. I'm so, so excited about this - my Instagram feed has been getting some sneak peeks. There'll be updated pages, new task cards and totally new activities. The price will go up when the updated resources are released, so it's worth grabbing it now - you'll get the current version at the current price and be able to download the new version when it's released.


While I've been doing this, I've been looking at other possible novel studies. Do you have any requests? Leave a comment and it might become a real thing!


Three Connections to The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1)

Although The Ruins of Gorlan is set in a fictional world, there's still many connections to real world history and topics. Those connections are just waiting for you to explore in the classroom.

3 Connections to the Ruins of Gorlan. A look at different topics you can explore in relation to the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post

Medieval History

The world of the Ranger's Apprentice books is a rather modern version of medieval history. Conditions are a lot cleaner and nicer for our characters, but there are castles, fiefdoms, barons and knights and lots of connections to European medieval history.

Students can spend some time reading up on medieval history. They may like to research historical documents and images or they might like to spend some time reading medieval historical fiction (you can find some here or here). This allows for comparisons, for students to discuss why the author may have chosen a medieval setting and discussions about how realistic the world of the Ranger's Apprentice is.

Spies in History

One of the roles of the Rangers is to act as spies for the King. There's a rich history of spies throughout history and it's a topic students can definitely get their teeth into. Students might like to look at why spies are required, who some of the famous spies are and what impact they've had on historical events. They could look at how spies work and spies who work during war time. There's also many middle grades and young adult books on spies which can be connected to The Ruins of Gorlan.


As an apprentice Ranger, Will learns archery and is expected to become an expert with the bow and arrow. Archery is an activity which developed to allow people to hunt for food before becoming a weapon and, in modern times, a sport. Students can learn how archery works and where it appears in other books and media. Through archery you can also connect The Ruins of Gorlan to physical educations - you may be lucky to allow the students to experience archery or you could look at some accuracy and strength drills - and STEM - creating a bow, looking at forces, looking at records from archery competitions, examining how bows and arrows have developed over history.

3 Connections to the Ruins of Gorlan. A look at different topics you can explore in relation to the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan. A Galarious Goods blog post

Lessons from Three Characters in The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1)

In my last post I talked about The Ruins of Gorlan, the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan and why I thought it would be a great read for the classroom. Here I'd like to spend a bit of time talking about some of the characters and the lessons they can inspire in the classroom.

Lessons from 3 Characters in The Ruins of Gorlan - a look at the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan and potential discussion topics to use in the classroom. A Galarious Goods blog post.


Will is an orphaned ward of Redmont Fief and knows nothing about his past. He's small, but nimble, and uses his climbing and hiding skills to get himself in and out of trouble. He aspires to be a knight, but is instead chosen as an apprentice to the mysterious Ranger.

The use of orphans in children's stories is a familiar topic, but it's definitely one worth revisiting with students. Why do authors choose to revisit the orphan storyline? What does it add to the story? How would the story be different if Will (or other famous orphans of children's literature) were not orphans? What similarities are there between Will's story and the story of other orphans?

Will's lack of knowledge about his past is also an interesting area to explore. Students could look into how family history shapes characters and how it shapes us as individuals. They could look at family stories and the narratives they create.


Like Will (and three of the other young characters in the story), Horace is an orphan and a ward. However, he gets his wish and is placed into battle school as an apprentice Knight. Despite having a natural ability with the sword, Horace finds the experience isolating and miserable - due to the behaviour of others and the lack of cultural knowledge he has around the battle school.

Horace's struggles at battle school are really interesting. On paper he's the perfect candidate, but he doesn't understand what the culture of the school is supposed to be like and has no one to ask about it. This leaves him open to abuse at the hands of older students. Students can investigate the idea of 'belonging' and 'culture' and talk about why it might be hard to be a new student at a school or a new immigrant to a country.

There's also opportunities to discuss bullying through this story - and how to deal with it. Horace doesn't deal with it particularly well and students might like to propose different ways he could have approached the situation.

Lessons from 3 Characters in The Ruins of Gorlan - a look at the first Ranger's Apprentice book by John Flanagan and potential discussion topics to use in the classroom. A Galarious Goods blog post.


Halt is the Ranger of Redmont Fief and Will's mentor. Little is known about him or his past, but he carefully guides Will to learn the skills necessary to become a Ranger. As Will gets to know Halt, he discovers that Halt has played a pivotal role in defending Araluen in the past - and that this experience will assist them in dealing with growing danger.

Halt's role as mentor is a familiar role in fiction and non-fiction stories. Students can compare mentors from different narratives and look at differences and similarities. They can also look at biographies and memoirs of notable people and identify mentors to real life people. Students may also like to identify the features of a mentor.

Have you used the Ranger’s Apprentice books in your classroom? Who is your favourite character?

 Related posts to read:


Introducing The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1)

Finding novels for small groups or whole classes to read can be a difficult exercise. Here I'd like to introduce one of my favourite books - a great coming of age story appropriate for 8-14 year old readers: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan.

Introducing the Ruins of Gorlan. A look at the Ranger's Apprentice novel by John Flanagan and why it's a great class novel for middle grade readers. A Galarious Goods book blog post

What’s the Story?

The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. It takes us to the fictional world of Araluen - similar to medieval England - a world of castles and knights and the mysterious Rangers.

The hero of the story is Will, a young orphan who wants to be trained to be a knight like his fellow ward (and - at the beginning of the book - rival) Horace. However, he is considered too small to join the battle school and is instead apprenticed to the enigmatic Ranger, Halt. We follow his training as an apprentice until an almost forgotten enemy appears to test Halt, Will and others around them

What Kind of Story Is It?

Although there are some fantastical elements to this book (those elements aren't really present in later books in the series) it is primarily an adventure. It's also an origin story - we see how Will enters training as a Ranger, how he is challenged through that training and asked to make decisions which will shape his future, how he interacts with his mentor and how he can apply his training in an unthinkable situation.

We can compare this book with other origin stories, looking at what the traits of an origin story are and how we could change or challenge them. Students can also try to write their own origin stories - either of original or familiar characters.

How Can We Use The Ruins of Gorlan in the Classroom

There's a lot in this book which can be used in the classroom. The fictional medieval elements allow research and discussion of medieval history. The characters in the story are challenged by a number of situations, including bullying, not being able to follow their dreams, confronting fears and being persistent, allowing for some interesting discussions. There's also incredibly rich vocabulary used throughout the book, allowing for word work and discussions.

Decided to teach The Ruins of Gorlan, but not sure where to start? Download this FREE RESOURCE - The Ruins of Gorlan: Introductory Activities to get you going.


Have you taught The Ruins of Gorlan in your classroom? What ideas and themes did you focus on? Share your experience below in the comments.