Are you looking for fun and easy lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger? Want pre-reading, while-reading, after-reading, or whole-unit bundles of teaching resources for The Catcher in the Rye? Read on to see 20+ fun and easy lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye.

Pre-reading lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye 

If you’re teaching The Catcher in the Rye, you probably want to get your students excited about the novel, familiar with the themes and characters, and conversant with the context. If so, take a look at these six pre-reading activities for The Catcher in the Rye.

1. Introduction PowerPoint

The first teaching resource for The Catcher in the Rye is this introduction PowerPoint by Jessica C. The PowerPoint includes information about the author J.D. Salinger, the historical background of the novel, important themes, an overview of the plot, and a discussion about the novel in popular culture.

2. Pre-reading Webquest

If your students prefer to work by themselves and have access to the internet and a device, then this pre-reading Webquest by Robert Cant about The Catcher in the Rye could be a great start to your unit.

In the editable activity, students learn about the author, setting, genre, and literary terms. There is the option for students to complete a paragraph response about one of two writing topics.

You can use the rubric to mark the Webquest and the task is ok to leave for a supply teacher. It takes between sixty and seventy-five minutes for students to complete the activity.

3. Pre-reading bias discussion activity

If your students love to talk and are sick of screens, then this pre-reading bias discussion activity by Created for Learning might be the perfect lesson for your class.

In this The Catcher in the Rye lesson plan, students need to either agree or disagree with nine controversial statements and move to the appropriate side of the room that reflects their opinion. You then allow students on both sides of the room to express their opinions, while you gently challenge each speaker with further questions.

Through this activity, students will activate prior knowledge about the themes in The Catcher in the Rye, as well as practice listening and speaking skills.

In the activity, you get a printable handout as well as a PowerPoint presentation to go along with the discussion.


4. Google Earth tour of New York

Another fantastic pre-reading activity for The Catcher in the Rye is this Google Earth tour of New York, also by Created for Learning. The tour is a way to introduce your students to the setting of The Catcher in the Rye.

Using Google Earth, you can give your students a tour of thirty-six of the locations from the novel, including Pencey Prep, Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, as well as J.D. Salinger’s family apartment.

The digital product includes

  • a map with locations labeled
  • zoomed in, ground-level images of most locations
  • a link to a video tutorial to learn how to use Google Earth
  • setting page numbers (from the novel) for easy finding in the book

5. Agree or disagree pre-reading activity

Another option for class discussion is this agree or disagree by The Lit Guy. Like the activity above, students must choose sides on various issues in the novel. Students must then be able to justify their point of view on the topic.

The activity includes a PowerPoint with the statements and tips on how to use the activity in your classroom.

6. Introduction PowerPoint

Another option for an introductory PowerPoint is this one by Educate and Create. It includes information about the author J.D. Salinger, information about the book being a banned book, and a summary of the book and its point of view.

It also includes information on important characters, settings, symbols, themes, and conflicts. The PowerPoint also has critical thinking questions about the novel.

While-reading lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye

So, your students are excited, they understand some of the themes they’ll be exploring, they’ve met the main characters, and they have a good understanding of the context of the novel. Now you want some activities for students to do while reading and you are teaching The Catcher in the Rye.

Keep reading for teaching activities for The Catcher in the Rye including task cards, reading quizzes, chapter questions, and characterization posters.

1. Chapter questions

If you like using chapter questions to guide and check your students’ reading, you might like this product by Laura Randazzo. The twelve pages of chapter questions cover the whole novel and include questions on important plot points, inferential questions, and personal connections students have made with the text.

You also get an eleven-page answer key. And bonus, a Google Drive version is included for online learning. You could use these questions as homework tasks, discussion starters, short-answer quizzes, or to differentiate learning for your students.


2. Characterization activity

If you’re looking for an activity to help your students engage in the characters in The Catcher in the Rye, this characterization activity by The Green Light might be just what you need. In the activity, students analyze the prompts to decide what they suggest about the characters.

You could use these eleven worksheets for individual work, such as bell ringers, exit slips, or homework. Or you could use them in a group work activity where each group takes on a different character.

The characters the activity covers include Holden, Mr Spencer, Allie, Phoebe, Jane Gallagher, Stradlater, Ackley, Sally Hayes, Maurice, Sunny, and Mr Antolini.

3. The Catcher in the Rye through a mental health lens

If your students are struggling to connect with the characters and engage in the novel, you might need this activity by Making Meaning with Melissa.

The activity focuses on Holden’s mental health and ties the book to current teen issues, making the novel more relevant to students. Included in the resource are activities and tasks such as

  • a mental health bookmark that students can use as a symptom tracker
  • a Say, Mean, Matter model and three charts
  • three articles
  • a Holden and sexuality gallery walk activity
  • and a writing prompt

4. Characterization activity – character’s cell phone

Another fun characterization activity is this one by O Some Great Stuff for English Teachers. In the activity, students show their understanding of the character by imagining what a character would have on their phone.

Students need to decide on a home screen graphic, apps related to entertainment, social media, shopping, news, and others. Students also need to include an illustration and discussion for each item they choose to show their understanding of the character.

Included in the resource is an example of a completed cell phone using a character from a different text so you can show students what your expectations are.

5. Task cards

If you’re sick of using chapter questions when teaching The Catcher in the Rye, this set of task cards by The Green Light might be more your style. There are over ninety questions on the task cards, covering all aspects of the novel.

You can use the task cards in a variety of ways including as bellringers, exit slips, quizzes, or as a review activity after reading. Students can work individually, or you can get students to work in pairs or teams.


6. Characterization mini-flip book

Another fun characterization activity is this mini-flipbook by Danielle Knight. The mini-flipbook can be used for both the novel and film version of The Catcher in the Rye and includes a book cover, flipbook pages, and characterization handouts.

7. Reading quizzes

If you prefer to use quizzes to check that your students are on-track with reading, you might like this set of daily reading check quizzes by Jennifer Hampton. The quizzes cover every chapter in the book and they are content-based to check if students are reading.

Each chapter quiz if five questions and you get an answer key.

8. The Catcher in the Rye annotations

If reading quizzes are not really your style, and your students have purchased their own copies of the book, you might like this annotation activity by Adam Kershaw. Using annotations is a great way of teaching The Catcher in the Rye because students must find a list of details and write margin notes while reading.

The annotation worksheets are divided by chapter and students are asked to underline or highlight details. Students use margin notes to analyze the novel using the questions/prompts provided.

9. Figurative language analyzer

Another great activity for analyzing the figurative language in The Catcher in the Rye is this one by Created for Learning. Using examples from the novel, students decide which examples are similes, metaphors, idioms, hyperbole, analogy, personification, onomatopoeia, puns, or symbols.

In the activity, students will identify, compare, and analyze different passages and quotes from the story to decide what type of figurative language is used, and how the literal meaning differs from the figurative meaning.

10. Speed date debates

A great way to review sections of the novel while reading is this speed date debate activity by Let’s Get Literature. In the activity, students pair up and argue for or against twenty-four different claims.

Each speed date debate session has 8 statements from one of three sections of the novel (chapters 1-10, chapters 11-18, and chapters 19-26). In each ‘date’ students have forty-five seconds to argue their stance on the claim and support it (or refute it) with evidence from the novel. After both sides have debated, students have a short time to try and make their point again before moving to another ‘date’ and claim.

Included in the product are detailed teacher instructions, three worksheets (one for each of the speed dates), a sample answer key, an optional grading rubric, diagrams for how to set up the room for the debates, and rules to show students.


11. Quickwrite prompts

Another set of activities for The Catcher in the Rye is this set of quickwrite prompts by Created for Learning. Included in the download are fifty questions that students use to write unedited responses to quotes, situations, and issues from the novel.

Students must activate prior knowledge by using their own memories, make connections with the story’s characters and history, and make deep connections to the themes in the novel.

Writing topics are varied and there is also a YouTube video tutorial that shows you how to use the resource.

12. Chapter questions

Another set of chapter questions, this download by The English Teacher’s Pet includes over 250 questions and a detailed answer key.

Questions cover character development, plot, themes, and the portrayal of the American Dream. The list of questions could be used while teaching The Catcher in the Rye in a variety of ways including as chapter quizzes, as a question bank for a final exam, or as a revision guide for students before an exam.

13. Crash Course Literature worksheet for The Catcher in the Rye


If you like using the free Crash Course Literature YouTube videos, you might enjoy using this worksheet (by me).

Designed to be used in conjunction with The Catcher in the Rye videos (see here for the first video and here for the second), these worksheets are a great way to allow your students to show their creativity while still guiding their note-taking.

The worksheets cover

  • Holden’s narrative techniques
  • Holden’s obsession with innocence
  • the symbolism of the red hunting cap
  • whether or not Holden’s character grows
  • J.D. Salinger’s history and how it may have influenced the novel
  • Holden’s obsession with innocence
  • the significance of the final scene in the book
  • the significance of the red hunting cap
  • Holden’s search for empathy
  • and narrative techniques (such as first-person narration, understatement, passive voice, and symbolism)

These worksheets are a great way to break up reading- and writing-heavy lessons, to give yourself a break from talking, or to leave for a substitute teacher.

They’re also great for doing a flipped classroom activity, where students watch the videos for homework and come in with prepared notes, ready for discussion or working on assessment.

After-reading lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye

Whew! Your students have read the novel, they’ve done some activities to further their comprehension and understanding of the themes, characters, setting, and language choices in the novel.

Now you need to get them to review their knowledge and complete some kind of assessment.

1. Digital escape room review

If you like no-prep lessons, sitting back and letting the kids do the work, and fun activities for The Catcher in the Rye that engage your students, this digital escape room review by English Bulldog might be just what you’re after.

And if your students have access to devices, will work in small groups, and like puzzles, then you are sure to enjoy this lesson.

All you have to do is share a link to the game by posting it in your online classroom, projecting it from your laptop, or writing it on the board.

The game includes a self-checking Google Form, so students can pace themselves and you know they’ve finished once they show you the congratulations message. You also get a teacher guide with visuals and hints should you need to help struggling students.

In the review game, students will complete puzzles to find the answers to the following topics

  • whether or not the images are related to the text
  • reading comprehension questions about the author
  • matching characters to their descriptions
  • matching words and definitions
  • a statement related to the theme of the story
  • and a plot sequence puzzle

2. Free timeline review activity

Another great review activity to use at the end of teaching The Catcher in the Rye is this FREE timeline review by Laura Randazzo.

In the activity, students work either independently or in small groups to reconstruct the plot of the novel and Holden’s path through those three “crazy” days in December.

The download includes directions for the teacher, a blank worksheet for students to complete, as well as an answer key.

3. Self-grading quiz bundle

If you’re into quizzes and want to save time, you might like this self-grading quiz bundle by Inquiring Mind of the English Teacher Kind.

The quizzes have 112 questions and cover the entire book. Questions include topics such as

  • point of view
  • Holden’s voice, family, behavior, and actions, his ideas about phonies, his feelings of loneliness, his confession, his thoughts about money, his emotional instability, his thoughts about death
  • plot details
  • characters such as Mr Spencer, Ackley, Jane Gallagher, Allie, Stradlater, Ms Morrow, Phoebe, Sally, Mr Antolini

The download includes versions in both Google Doc and Google Forms (self-grading) format, as well as the option to download Word Doc or PDF versions of the quiz.

4. Final exam

If you’d like to do a test for the final assessment for your class, you might like this final exam by Matthew B. The test has multiple-choice, short answer, and extended response questions.

It includes tasks such as matching characters to Holden’s quotes about them, interpreting quotes, and explaining their significance and extended response questions.

An answer key is included, except for the extended-response section because they are open to interpretation.

5. Five-paragraph essay

If you want your students to complete an essay about The Catcher in the Rye, this five-paragraph essay activity by The Classroom Sparrow might work for you.

In the activity, students must write an essay using evidence from the text to support their analysis.

Included in this lesson plan for The Catcher in the Rye are

  • the assignment instructions
  • two essay choices
  • thesis writing information
  • group symbol brainstorm
  • five-paragraph detailed outline
  • transition words handout
  • essay organizer
  • an editable rubric

Whole-unit bundles of lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye

Now, if you’ve read this far, you probably want more than a few supplemental lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye. You probably have a zillion things going on and have precisely zero time to create a whole unit of work.

Lucky for you we’ve got five different choices of whole-unit bundles for you to use while teaching The Catcher of the Rye.

1. Whole-unit bundle by Created for Learning

We’ve mentioned a few of the products in this Created for Learning bundle already, so if you like the look of them, you might be better off getting the whole bundle. The bundle includes a curriculum map/pacing guide so you know where you are going and how to plan your lessons.

The pedagogy section explains the ideas behind the activities, gives ideas for implementing them for different levels of learners, and shows how the activities are aligned with standards.

Activities included in the bundle are

  • pre-reading bias activity (previously mentioned in this post)
  • Google Earth introduction tour (previously mentioned in this post)
  • plot char analyzer diagram arc
  • conflict graphic organizer – six types of conflict
  • characters analyzer
  • settings analyzer
  • symbols analyzer
  • figurative language instructional slideshow
  • figurative language activity (previously mentioned in this post)
  • journal quickwrite prompts (previously mentioned in this post)
  • comprehension pop quizzes
  • vocabulary list and quiz assessment
  • three responses to literature essay options and optional delivery as a speech, including topics and grading rubrics

2. Editable curriculum by Rigorous Resources

If you want your curriculum to be editable or you teach AP Literature, then this bundle for teaching The Catcher in the Rye by Rigorous Resources might be a good fit.

Highlights of activities included in the bundle are

  • 30 pages of thought-provoking discussion questions that can be used to prepare students for class discussion, prompt students’ writing, or use as bellringers, exit slips, or homework tasks. Also included is a detailed answer key to the discussion questions, informed by scholarly articles.
  • 12 pages of quick write prompts
  • 10 vocabulary lists for each of the novel’s 12 sections with definitions and sample sentences
  • reading and vocabulary quizzes – daily 10-question quizzes on the nightly reading homework and 10-question quizzes on the vocabulary, including answer key
  • literary devices quiz – thirty quotations from the novel that students must identify as including literary devices such as metaphor, simile, symbolism, hyperbole, paradox, oxymoron, irony, and more. Also includes a glossary of the device definitions and examples of how they’re used in The Catcher in the Rye.
  • quotation race -students race to identify the speakers of 50 quotations from the book. It can be used to prepare students for the AP exam and an answer key is included.
  • Q3 practice essay – in-class practice essay that prepares students for the “Q3” essay from the AP Literature and Composition Exam. Students must write a 40-minute in-class essay in response to one of three recent Q3 prompts.
  • creative writing assignment – students write as Holden Caulfield and fill in a missing scene from the novel. Students must use Holden’s voice and prose style to narrate one of two missing scenes. Answer key included.
  • analytical writing assignment – students choose from one of five sample topics or they can develop their own topic. Grading rubric included.

3. Whole unit bundle by Simply Novel

Another option for a whole unit of The Catcher in the Rye lesson plans and activities is this one by Simply Novel. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards for grades 10-12, the novel unit can be as student- or teacher-directed as you like. This means you can use it for either in-person or distance learning.

Included in the literature guide is

  • author biography and questions on J.D. Salinger
  • notes on historical context
  • article and questions on understanding and dealing with loss
  • pre-reading activity on discovering universal themes, universal ideas, understanding symbolism, and the bildungsroman genre
  • vocabulary lists with and without definitions
  • list of allusions and terminology from the novel, including definitions
  • note-taking and summarizing activities
  • comprehension/study guide questions
  • activities that focus on literature standards of diction and syntax, characterization and foils, stream of consciousness, types of conflict, perspective, themes, absent characters, and symbolism
  • activities that focus on language standards of vocabulary in context, word roots, changing parts of speech, word parts, multiple definitions, and connotation and denotation
  • reading and vocabulary quizzes every few chapters
  • two versions of the final test
  • summary of the novel
  • list of pre-reading activity ideas
  • list of post-reading activity ideas
  • alternative assessment ideas
  • essay/writing ideas
  • two different project rubrics
  • response to literature rubric
  • sample agenda with teacher notes
  • complete answer key

5. Whole unit bundle by SJ Brull

This five-week unit of lesson plans for The Catcher in the Rye contains everything you need to teach J.D. Salinger’s classic novel.

Included in the bundle is

  • an anticipation and reflection guide – a two-page handout with quotes relating to the text’s themes. Students need to respond whether they agree or disagree with the statement and then explain their opinion. There are teacher notes on how to turn this into a class discussion.
  • quote analysis and reading quizzes – the reading quizzes help you gauge student comprehension and the quote analysis helps students learn to read for deeper understanding of themes
  • theme tracking notes – students research themes and track them while reading. They use this later to create an author’s theme statement.
  • film and text essay – an elements of film handout, essay graphic organizer, grading rubric, and notes for the teacher that you can use while showing an adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye.
  • character analysis packet with three activities – firstly, a guided space for students to illustrate, describe, record, and analyze evidence about character development in the novel. Secondly, a character-theme graffiti table to help students understand how minor characters support the theme development. Lastly, a creative character review project that encourages abstract thinking and evidence-based writing
  • post-reading discussion in the Socratic method: a semi-structured approach to class discussions with a 20-slide PowerPoint that explains the Socratic method. Students get a preparation worksheet and reflection. You also get instructions on how to hold a class discussion.
  • author study – students create a Facebook profile, Facebook newsfeed, Facebook exit tickets, and Twitter exit tickets about J.D. Salinger. There is also extra information on how you can use these in different ways throughout the unit.
  • theme and quote poster – two different styles of printable posters that highlight key themes from the novel

That’s a wrap . . .

That’s all for our The Catcher in the Rye lesson plans, activities, and teaching resources. Hopefully, you’ve found something useful for you and saved some time!

Let us know if you have used any of these resources, or if you have other resources you’ve used and loved. Connect with us on Facebook or Instagram to share your views.

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