Why I Still Teach J. D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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Two of my HS junior classes began this J. D. Salinger classic today.  Why?  Well, I have 34 students in the two classes and exactly 34 copies in my classroom.  I’m going with “Fate” as the answer.

Some of you–especially those who have graduated SHS and endured my dry wit for at least a year–have read this book and may even remember a little about it.  I won’t spoil it for the uninitiated, but if you don’t know Holden Caulfield and his December weekend, close this app/laptop right this second, young man/woman!

I wrote recently about my favorite books.  I have long attributed my (perhaps irrational and illogical) choice of becoming a public school English teacher based on one particular novel:  this one. I was not required to read it in high school OR college.  In fact, back in about 1996, a friend and coworker (Bill Something from Iowa) at the now defunct JP ANTHONY BOOKSELLERS in the Meadows shopping center suggested I read it.  Prior to this book, I had thought myself well-versed in modern literature–primarily because I had finished THREE John Grisham novels in my spare time over the previous two years.

I was enamored.  I had already begun taking some writing classes by then, but this novel drilled inspiration into my over-sized head like nothing ever had before.

If it had been an expression back then, I’d have said, “Yeah.  That just happened.  Hashtag Amazeballs!”

My Point–(I’ve learned that not too many people read beyond 300 words, so I’m cutting it close):

Books can inspire us.  Not just the “classics” either.  I love all types of books; I try to give kids a look at books they may never pick up on their own.

I’m inspired a lot by books.  Then again, paintings do a lot for me as well.

Books, paintings, butterflies, songs, children’s laughter…

Inspiration is everywhere, folks.  Sometimes it finds you too.  Here’s hoping this year’s crop of juniors enjoy meeting Holden.

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