Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Last updated Monday, July 6, 2009

Author: Louis Sachar
Illustrator: Adam Mccauley
Date of Publication: 1998
ISBN: 0688160867
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2009

Synopsis: Review The Wayside School was supposed to be one story high, with 30 classrooms side by side; instead, it was built sideways, with 30 one-classroom stories. As befits such a strange school, these tales are a bit strange too. In one, Jason is stuck to his seat by a large wad of chewing gum. His teacher tries throwing ice water on him (to chill the gum to brittleness) and turning him upside down. She even contemplates cutting his pants off. Finally, though, he falls from his upside-down position when kissed (ugh!) by one of the girls in the class. Other tales include a bit of a moral, such as the story of Kathy, whose assumption that no one will ever like her is proved right, or the story of Bebe, who draws quickly but without artistic merit. The quirky humor in this book is appealing to children, and it makes a good read-aloud book for the younger set.

Note to readers:
•  Read the introduction.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is the name of your school, and the next school that you are going to? Have you heard any stories about the school that you are going to?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Can you wiggle your ears?
•  Do you bring your teachers apples?
•  Have you ever had a mean teacher? How about a really nice one?
•  What is the worst punishment you have received?
•  How did the kids save themselves?
•  How did they convince Mrs. Jewels that they weren’t monkeys?
•  How does Joe count? Why does he always get the correct answer?
•  Have you ever fallen asleep in class?
•  Have you ever taken a big fall?
•  Have you ever tried to be good and still got in trouble? Give examples.
•  How did Bebe and Calvin work together? Should the teacher have commented on Calvin and Bebe’s art project? What would you have said?
•  Has counting or anything else ever been difficult for you to learn how to do?
•  Why is knowledge more important than money?

Craft ideas:
•  What would your school look like if it was built sideways? (Don’t forget the flagpole) Draw your school sideways.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!