Appropriate Age/Grade for "Catcher in the Rye"?Is this book appropriate for high school seniors or juniors?

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ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is an excellent book to use at the upper levels. Conflicts in the story with regard to parents, the establishment of school, other teenagers, fitting in, and etc. are all still contemporary issues. Lower grades could discuss those issues easily, but Juniors and Seniors should be able to go a lot deeper with regard to hidden motivations and meaning. One of my favorite books, and I read it in high school, and then I read it in a college class years later as an adult. My perceptions of it were entirely different.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am a High School English teacher.  I read The Catcher in the Rye with the 11th grade.  It is an appropriate book for grades 11 and 12, because of the serious topic.  Holden suffers from depression in the book, a coming of age story.

He also engages in risky behavior and the book has some vivid imagery in it, as well as foul language.  The Juniors love the curse words, I don't think the 10th graders could handle it.  They are already laughing at every possible reference, even things that are not related to anything. 

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say so, yes, but there are those who have objected. When it came out in the 1950s, many parents thought the language and attitude were inappropriate, and set bad examples for teen readers.

I would argue it is appropriate for two reasons. First, it articulates the sense of the world that so many teens have trouble expressing. It helps them put things into words. Second, the literary quality. Students so close to adulthood should be exposed to good and challenging works.


lizbv eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book is a great discussion starter for issues of growing up.  It is especially appropriate for juniors because they are soon going to be in their senior year and will have to begin looking at colleges and making more "grown up" choices.  Junior year they are able to relate very much to the pressures that Holden is feeling about doing well and getting into a good school, as well as about thinking ahead to what he wants to do with his life. 

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely. I've even used it with a mature group of Sophomores. I love to use it particularly because of the discussion on depression that always occurs. There are many depressed high schoolers, and it's great to let them know as soon as possible that they aren't alone.

josiahcurtis3 | Student

I read it at age 10. It has curse words but involves a relatable world. I would advise rereading it as an adolescent. 

bgl5704 | Student

The catcher and the rye have more implications within them than just simply nonchalant and irregular behavior. I've read this book during my high school years and my whole class loved the book simply because we can relate to it. We can relate to the ambiguity that life brings with every decision we have to make and the uncertainty of the future. It's a great book and if taught correctly would for sure change some kids life in a good way.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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