Welcome to The Big Read, a program 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 Dashiell Hammett's classic novel, The Maltese Falcon. 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.
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.
Dashiell Hammett, c. 1932 (Courtesy of Josephine Hammett)
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and Sydney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman in a scene from the 1941 movie of The Maltese Falcon (Bettmann/Corbis)
San Francisco, 1925 (Library of Congress)