What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
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.”
- Tim O’Brien, Author
This site offers a collection of research links about Tim O’Brien for students and a list of his works and related resources.
- Big Think: Tim O’Brien Video Interview
In this 2010 interview, Tim O’Brien discusses a number of topics related to his work and their relevance today.
- Writing Vietnam: Tim O’Brien’s President’s Lecture at Brown University
Here you’ll find an audio archive and transcript of O’Brien’s talk on the challenges of writing.
Grades 3 – 12 | Calendar Activity |  November 12
Students write biographical poems about a soldier.
Grades 5 – 12 | Calendar Activity |  May 27
Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. In addition to having celebrations with family and friends, many people visit cemeteries and memorials and place flags on the grave sites of fallen servicemen and women.