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July 17

On the Road author Jack Kerouac embarked on his first cross-country road trip in 1947.

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On the Road author Jack Kerouac embarked on his first cross-country road trip in 1947.

Grades 9 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Jack Kerouac published his most famous novel, On the Road, in 1957, but his depiction of the iconic road trip was actually inspired by two real-life trips Kerouac took ten years before, in 1947 and 1949. This influential novel, with its spontaneous and unconventional writing style and its focus on drugs and disillusionment, helped to define the Beat Generation, a social and literary movement of the 1950s that also included William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.




For high school students, begin a discussion by asking:

  • If you could travel anywhere in the United States by car, where would you want to go and why?
  • Who would be the one person that you would most want to take with you on the trip and why?
  • What difficulties would you expect to have on your trip?

Afterward, read a section from On the Road that deals with the aspects of cross-country travel and that reflects Kerouac's unique writing style. An appropriate excerpt from the novel can be found at this Literary Kicks site.

Lead students in a discussion with the aim of characterizing Kerouac's style. Then ask students to attempt to emulate his stream-of-consciousness style with their own written narrative in which they blend their road trip from the opening discussion with details from vacations and trips they have taken in the past.



  • NPR: Jack Kerouac

    Stories, anecdotes, interviews and audio about Jack Kerouac and his writing.

  • Jack Kerouac: Bio and Links

    This American Museum of Beat Art site dedicated to Kerouac incoludes a biography, bibliography, and links, including one to Dharma Beat, a Kerouac newszine. This site is part of a larger archive and collection of works pertaining to the Beat Generation.

  • "The Ganser Syndrome"

    Time Magazine's original review of On the Road will give students a sense of how the book was received when it was first published in 1957. Time chose Kerouac's book as one of the 100 most important modern novels written in English.

  • Essentials of Spontaneous Prose

    When students try to model their own narratives using Kerouac's style, this University of Pennsylvania site will help identify the components of his style, form, and process.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Beyond "What I Did on Vacation": Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing

After reading and analyzing short examples of travel writing and discussing conventions of the genre, students write their own travel articles.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Style: Defining and Exploring an Author's Stylistic Choices

Students find examples of specific stylistic devices in sample literary passages then search for additional examples and explore the reasons for the stylistic choices that the author has made.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Literary Parodies: Exploring a Writer's Style through Imitation

This lesson asks students to analyze the features of a poet's work then create their own poems based on the original model.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Travel Brochures: Highlighting the Setting of a Story

Readers are often transported to the places mentioned in texts through words and descriptions. This lesson invites students to create travel brochures about the setting of texts they have read.