Getting Started

This collection is for the teacher who needs a few introductory set pieces to start off a unit on Travels with Charley. Included are lectures/presentations to introduce students to John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, and some of the controversial issues touched on in the book. Students can also learn more about the life on a ranch at the turn of the century. The contextual resources within each lesson plan will help address some of the challenges of teaching Travels with Charley as well as place the story and its characters into historical context.

Controversial Topics

Travels with Charley is most known for Steinbeck's visceral narration of the integration of William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was a racially volatile time in American history and the people encountered in Steinbeck's travels through the South reflect the tensions and prejudices of the period. Students should be prepared for what they will encounter in the classroom and during their reading of the book.

Travels with Charley Introduction

An introduction to John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, its characters, the setting, and the contextual background, including the turbulent times of the 1960s.

Planning a Journey

This is a light exercise to help get students into the mood of reading Travels with Charley. Steinbeck devotes Part One (and continues into Part Two) of the book to describing the preparations he made for his journey. This activity helps to get students into the journeying mindset by asking them to consider what kinds of preparations they would make.

The American Dream 

The "American Dream" is a consistent theme throughout Steinbeck's works. As he travels across the United States, Steinbeck gets a glimpse of life in many different areas of the country. In every region Steinbeck encounters people working to achieve their version of the "American Dream."