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Louis Sachar
Medal - 1999




buried treasure, curses, friendship, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, magic, onions, racism, water


Stanley is just a regular kid until he is found responsible for a crime he didn't commit. We learn about a curse that has been in his family for several generations. His bad luck lands Stanley in a very strange correctional camp in the Texas desert. The warden has all the inmates digging holes in a dry lake bed. The story weaves interesting tall tales from local history and Stanley's family. The relationships among the juveniles in the camp are interesting to follow. Stanley finds a good friend, treasure, and learns to like himself.

Classroom Connections:

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Author and Book Connections
Author Connection. Sachar is the author of Small Steps,Wayside School, Dogs Don't Tell Jokes, Sideways Stories, and the Marvin Redpost series, among others.
Holes by Louis Sachar from N. Matson
Fun Connections. Did you notice that the name Stanley Yelnats is a palindrome? Find examples on the Internet and create your own. Visit Palindromes from DiscoverySchool. Use the following websites for other ideas: English Palindromes, Palindromic Phrases, Palindromic Words.
For a totally different and fun activity, try the Holes Trivia Game or the Holes Word Scramble, both from Kidsreads. Also try the quiz from Scholastic
Book Connections. Holes blends a serious topic with light humor. It also contains elements of historical fiction and tall tales. Discuss which element you enjoyed the most. You might enjoy other books in the same areas. SparkNotes provides a study guide for Holes.
Explore the book at Wikipedia. Read the Random House - Book Info and Scholastic - Holes. Also check Holes KidsRead and Holes. Try the following Holes WebQuests and activities:
Check out the following project; a website developed by kids for kids:
The Hole Truth (and Nothing But the Truth) - a unit study based on Louis Sachar's book. It's a 2001 "Best of Contest" award winner from ThinkQuest Junior!
Cool Classroom Connections
Consider the following aspects of the book: inventions and inventors, onions, dehydration, old west, magic, spells, treasure, animals of the desert (snakes, scorpions, lizards), and lots more. Here you find some related resources.
Bullying and Teasing. Teasing and bullying in schools is a problem that can have devastating and lifelong effects -- both for the bully and their victims. Remember Stanley was a victim of bullying at school before he came to Camp Green Lake
Homelessness. Stanley's friend was homeless before he came to camp. Discuss homelessness in your community. What would it be like to be homeless? Create a poster advocating a way that one can help.
Juvenile Justice & Detention. Read about the history of juvenile delinquency. How do you think that teenagers should be treated in the judicial system?
Texas. Stanley goes to a correctional camp in Texas. Learn more about the state. Based on the description of the surroundings, where do you think the camp might be located?
Buried Treasure. Stanley finds out that the real reason they are digging holes involves hidden treasure. Read about treasure hunts. What type of treasure would you like to hunt? Why? Hide some treasure at your school. Create a treasure map.
Desert Life. Stanley had to deal with life in the desert, including lack of water and harmful creatures. Create a list of the helpful and harmful aspects of life in the desert. Then, create a desert mural.
Gypsy (Roma). According to family legend, Stanley was under a curse from a gypsy woman. Investigate the history and culture of gypsies, many who prefer to be called Roma.
Other Related Explorations.
Movie Connection
View the trailer, learn more about the cast, and teachers will find lots of lesson plans at Holes - The Official Website from Disney Online
Read a movie review (May 6, 2003) by T.S. Hibbs in the National Review: "No Holes in Hole"
Teacher Connections
Holes (Grades 5-8) by H. Kupczyk and M. Budzban
Holes by Louis Sachar (Grade 5-6) from Houghton Mifflin Company's TeacherView
Holes by Louis Sachar (Grades 3-6) by D. Flaugher from LessonPlansPage . . .
Holes, by Louis Sachar by D. Flaugher form AskERIC Lesson Plan . . .
Holes by Louis Sachar (Book Discussion Guide) from Multnomah County Library
Holes (Literature Activity Guide) by N. Polette
Holes: Louis Sachar from Kids@Random
Questions on Holes

Classroom Connections and Reader Comments
 I am going to be using Holes as a class novel in about two weeks. I teach 8th grade Reading Development which is for those students who made less than a 78 on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skill test. We do not have mandatory 8th grade reading. Students in my class may not have a serious problem with reading, but are reading at a low comprehension level because of a sense of failure, and or a lack on interest in reading. Sometimes it is due to low vocabulary concepts. Some of my students have been placed in my class because they have never taken a TAAS test or because their parents have requested that they take an additional reading class. The reading ranges in my class can go anywhere from about 3rd-4th grade level up through 12 grade level. Some students are just not good test takers. I have two objectives for my class. The first is to encourage a love of reading to the best of my ability. This means I must be very careful with the selections I bring into my class for my students to read. I think Holes fits that category. My next objective is to develop critical thinking skills so that the student will be
stimulated to start asking questions so that they will become a more active and participating reader. Holes seems to offer a wide variety of topics that students should be able to buy into. I have begun to lay the ground work by teaching and demonstrating the Reading Process. (Pre Reading, Reading, and Post Reading) through a short story by Richard Peck, "Priscilla and the Wimps". The students are just now finishing up on Post reading activities such as creating an extension to the story. This next week I will be starting to engage them in group activities using Reading -- A Novel Approach by Janice Shabbona published in 1984. It incorporates student discussion groups and cooperative learning which I hope to extend into Internet activities. We also use the Accelerated Reader program to supplement our reading. The students are required to read two books a grading period( 9 weeks). Holes is an an Accelerated Reader book and students will be able to take a test on the book for credit when we finish it. Vicki Q.
More ideas...
Pre reading activities: The students will be issued books and I will be reviewing pre reading questions they should ask themselves before they read. We will be looking at the cover trying to get as much information as we can from the cover, the preview summary on the back and any information the cover and first pages would have on the author. Using a graphic organizer similar to a kwl but actually a paper folded in half on one side I will ask the students to write any questions they have about the title or author . They will see how many pages there are in the book, how many chapters and become aware that the book will be divided into 8 sections. On the other side I will ask the students to predict what the story will be about by determining who the main character is and what may be the main characters problem. On another paper I will have them draw a picture or write a descriptive paragraph of a boys detention camp and have them include a picture or a description of a camp warden. We probably will not get all of this finished in this class period. You are free to use any of my ideas. I would appreciate any feedback, critiques, or extended ideas. Vicki Q.
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Created by Annette Lamb, 10/99. Updated 5/06.
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