National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried

by Tim O'Brien

Abstraction may make your head believe, but a good story, well told, will also make your kidneys believe, and your scalp and your tear ducts, your heart, and your stomach, the whole human being.

Tim O'Brien (Copyright Marion Ettlinger, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin)

Schedule/Lesson Plans

This is a suggested teaching schedule for a 10 day class study of Tim O' Brien's The Things They Carried. Lesson plans and handouts can be downloaded individually by clicking on the name of the file in the schedule below. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these files.

Audio Guide CDs are available only for the communities participating in The Big Read. If your community is participating, contact the lead community organization to receive a free Audio Guide CD. Non-participating communities can listen to the full audio online.

Day One
Focus: Biography
Day One Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Two
Focus: Culture and History
Day Two Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Three
Focus: Narrative and Point of View
Day Three Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Four
Focus: Characters
Day Four Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Five
Focus: Figurative Language
Day Five Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Six
Focus: Symbols
Day Six Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Seven
Focus: Character Development
Day Seven Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Eight
Focus: The Plot Structure
Day Eight Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Nine
Focus: Themes of the Book
Day Nine Lesson Plan [PDF]

Day Ten
Focus: What Makes a Book Great?
Day Ten Lesson Plan [PDF]


Handout 1: Tips on Reading a Collection of Linked Short Fiction [PDF]
Handout 2: Conscription and the U.S. Draft [PDF]
Handout 3: The Quang Ngai Province and the My Lai Massacre [PDF]

Download all ten lesson plans and handouts [.zip]

Page numbers refer to the 1998 Broadway Books edition of The Things They Carried.

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