Teacher Guide

The Overstory Lesson Plan

Introduction to The Overstory

Spanning a great swath of time and including a variety of characters and narrators, The Overstory is an ambitious novel with an urgent environmental message. Though the novel's plot appears disparate at first, it eventually crystallizes into the story of a group of activists who are called to protect the last 3% of redwood trees on earth. Powers also tells the stories of the trees themselves, as they play supporting (but nonetheless crucial) roles.

While teaching at Stanford, Powers often took walks into the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he was taken aback by the redwoods. There, he experienced a self-described "religious conversion," and he wondered how he had never noticed the trees...

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