High School
English Language Arts

The Catcher in the Rye in the 21st Century

Year after year, I wonder if students will like Holden Caulfield as much as I did back in the 1980s. Usually, I am disappointed because they quickly label him as a "whiner" and it takes until the end of the book and extensive discussion for them to understand the complexities of his character. However, I have found a solution! I use these resources to expose Holden as an accessible teen, one who students can relate to and maybe even like.
A Collection By Melissa Mirabello
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The Catcher in the Rye in the 21st Century
  • Melissa Mirabello says:
    My kids love watching John Green and Thug Notes for supplemental information and analysis of books. Green has a great sense of humor - he is witty and speaks quickly. He definitely keeps students engaged, especially when he talks about the obsession with image, both by Holden and modern teens.
  • Melissa Mirabello says:
    I usually print out the lyrics to this song and then we listen to it during class. I like focusing on the lines "There's no motivation and frustration makes him crazy. He makes a plan to take a stand but always ends up sitting. Someone help him up or he's gonna end up quitting." I ask students to find examples in the book that apply to this line. I also ask them to reflect on their personal connection to this quotation.
  • cbsnews.com
    cbsnews.com

    Lifting the veil of mystery from J.D. Salinger

    5 minute read
    Melissa Mirabello says:
    I used this clip because it shows students that many writers, including Salinger, do not want fame. However, in this growing media-infused world, the public insists on exposing famous artists. The movie "Salinger" was made in 2013 and received uncomplimentary reviews. After watching, I usually ask students about privacy - one's rights, the need for privacy and the differences between public and private life in the 21st century.
  • Melissa Mirabello says:
    Students like to read their peers' comments on a topic. This is an example of a blog in which students answer the question: Is Holden the quintessential teen? I had my students do a similar assignment and they enjoyed the blog as a form of discourse.
  • roadtrippers.com
    roadtrippers.com

    Holden Caulfield's New York: A Catcher in the Rye Trip

    5 minute read
    Melissa Mirabello says:
    I always teach my students that New York City is a character in The Catcher in the Rye. It speaks, acts, reacts, and affects the reader's experience with text. I survey students about their exposure to NYC (either firsthand or via media, hearsay, etc.). One year, I took students on a field trip and we stopped at some of the same places that Holden talks about in the book. Students gained more empathy for Holden when they "walked in his shoes."
  • Melissa Mirabello says:
    For first time teachers of Catcher, this is a simple ten day lesson plan. For returning teachers, it is still a valuable resource. I really like the diverse instructional strategies such as using Venn diagrams and focusing on motifs. Also, there are several student writing assignments such as writing a fictitious letter to a friend and found poetry. These strategies and assignments help the teacher assess the students' understanding of the text and foster interest in the story.
  • Melissa Mirabello says:
    This is a great resource for supplemental materials on the book. From crossword puzzles to articles, this site gives teachers accessibility to information that helps them bring the book to life for students. For Holden to be relevant today, lessons must be varied and fun -- this resource gives and inspires.
  • learning.blogs.nytimes.com
    learning.blogs.nytimes.com

    'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'The Case for Delayed Adulthood'

    8 minute read
    Melissa Mirabello says:
    I like this resource because it is written to help teachers teach concepts in The Catcher in the Rye while still acknowledging their modern lives. It juxtaposes the text with an article entitled, "The Case for Delayed Adulthood." It gives step-by-step instructions for incorporating questions related to passages in the text, includes an NPR segment, and suggests a Socratic Seminar on the book. Best of all, every strategy or lesson is explained in simple terms.
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BloomBoard Asks:Can 21st century teens relate to Holden?