Welcome to The Big Read, a major initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American culture. The Big Read hopes to unite communities through great literature, as well as inspire students to become lifelong readers. This Big Read Teacher’s Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through John Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Each lesson has four sections: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments. in addition, we have provided capstone projects and suggested essay topics, as well as handouts with more background information about the novel, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.
The Big Read teaching materials also include an Audio Guide. Packed with interviews, commentaries, and excerpts from the novel, The Big Read Audio Guide presents first-hand accounts of why Steinbeck’s novel remains so compelling seven decades after its initial publication. Some of america’s most celebrated writers, scholars, and actors have volunteered their time to make Big Read Audio Guides exciting additions to the classroom.
Finally, The Big Read Reader’s Guide deepens your exploration with interviews, booklists, timelines, and historical information. We hope this guide and syllabus allow you to have fun with your students while introducing them to the work of a great american author.
From the NEA, we wish you an exciting and productive school year.
John Steinbeck, c. 1939 (Bettmann/Corbis)
The Joad's hit the road in the 1940 film version of the book (Photofest)
Dorothea Lange's photograph, Migrant Mother (1936), an iconic image of the Great Depression (Library of Congress)