One of my favorite children’s authors is Louis Sachar. I love his quirky sense of humor, and even more, I love sharing this humor with my students and giggling right along with them! I have many “inside jokes” with my students where the humor brings us together as a community. I am a big advocate for humor in children’s literature because it draws out those reluctant readers and shows them how truly enjoyable reading can be. Often this spark gets these students exploring other forms of literature and leads them on a journey of a lifelong love of reading.
One of my favorite Louis Sachar books is Sideways Stories From Wayside School. Even though I have read this book, and the two sequels, more times than I can count, I still get a chuckle each and every time. The Wayside School series is the great for a class read-aloud or to use as a novel study.
Sideways Stories is told from the point of view of Louis the Yard Teacher, which Louis Sachar based on himself. He spent a college semester working as an aid in an elementary school and spent some of that time as “Louis the Yard Teacher”. Sachar also based most of his characters from the book on students he worked with during that time. Sideways Stories was Louis Sachar’s first book, published in 1978, but it took several years to gain widespread popularity.
Wayside School was an architectural mistake. It was mistakenly built 30 stories tall with only one classroom per story. The story revolves around the class on the 30th story. The book begins by telling us the story of the teacher on the 30th story, Mrs. Gorf. Mrs. Gorf has a special talent that leads to her demise and is replaced by Mrs. Jewls in chapter 2. Mrs. Jewls is a sweet but somewhat naive teacher, which leads to big laughs. A lot of humor comes from Mrs. Jewls’ seemingly lack of common sense. The other teacher discussed in the last chapter is Louis the Yard Teacher. All the rest of the chapters (there are 30, of course!) detail a student. Each student is unique in some ironic, humorous way.
I have used this book in several different ways in my classroom. First, I have used it as a read-aloud to spark a sense of community. Reading, discussing, and laughing together brings a class together. I can read this at the beginning of the year and still have kids quoting it or bringing up a joke at the end of the year. I have yet to find a child who did not thoroughly enjoy this book.
I have used this book as a whole class novel unit as well as a small literature circle group unit. I have also used this book as an independent study unit for students. I created a unit to accompany Sideways Stories From Wayside School and each of the sequels, Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger.
See what people are saying about the Wayside School Novel Studies by The Teaching Bank!
Reasons to Use the Wayside School Series for Novel Studies
Engaging storytelling: The Wayside School series is full of humor and unique storytelling that keeps students engaged and entertained.
Relevant themes: The books explore themes such as friendship, perseverance, and individuality that are relatable to students and promote important life lessons.
Easy-to-follow narrative: The books are written in a simple and straightforward style, making them accessible to students of all reading levels.
Diverse characters: The series features a diverse cast of characters, offering students the opportunity to see themselves and others represented in literature.
Cross-curricular connections: The Wayside School series can be used to connect with other subjects, such as history, mathematics, and social studies, making it a versatile tool for teachers.
Try a free sample of the novel study for Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Whether you use these books for the whole class, small group, or individual instruction, you will find your students laughing and truly enjoying reading. Even if you don’t use these units in your class, include them in a class library for your students to read or read as a class read-aloud. Whatever you do, make sure your students have access to these books! They are so much fun and really open up the reading world for those reluctant readers!
You can purchase this novel study which contains both a printable and a Google Drive™ format at the following locations:
You can also buy all three units together in a discounted bundle!
Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!
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