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HomeClassroom ResourcesCalendar Activities

October 01

Author Tim O'Brien was born on this day.

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Author Tim O'Brien was born on this day.

Grades 9 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Tim O'Brien, author of the memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Send Me Home and short story collections and novels such as Going After Cacciato (for which he won the National Book Award) and The Things They Carried, is known as America's preeminent writer of the Vietnam War era. A veteran of the conflict, O'Brien writes about the experience of the Vietnam War and Vietnam Era with both specific realism and artful imagination. After his tour of duty in Vietnam, he enrolled at Harvard for graduate work but left to pursue an internship at The Washington Post.





Students who read Tim O’Brien’s stories, particularly The Things They Carried, are intrigued by his flexible literary concept of “truth.” He suggests that the truth of fiction, as revealed by a story, can be more true than what actually happened. After reading O’Brien’s story “A True War Story” from The Things They Carried, have students choose a powerful event from their own lives. Using the Timeline Tool, have them map out the events from real life. Then, with the emotional impact of the full story in mind, encourage them to create a fictional version that remains true to the facts of real life but moves toward O’Brien’s notion of the “story truth.”






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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Building Vietnam War Scavenger Hunts through Web-Based Inquiry

Students research the effects of the Vietnam war on a specific group of people who were involved. They then create Internet scavenger hunts to share with the class.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Worth Its Weight: Letter Writing with "The Things They Carried"

This lesson uses a letter-writing activity based on Tim O'Brien's story "The Things They Carried" to build empathy as students examine the weight they symbolically carry in their own lives.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Love of War in Tim O'Brien's "How to Tell a True War Story"

Students explore the theme of love of war through texts on camaraderie among soldiers. They then compose a visual collage depicting their beliefs about the relationship between love and war.