Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Book Club: Holes

Book Club discussion groups are a great way to get kids excited about books and discussing them. This is the second in a series of posts sharing some of my favorite books for Book Club discussions. Please click on the "Book Club" tag to read more.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes (1998) by Louis Sachar [Newbery Award Winner]. Though this great book has also been turned into a movie, it is likely to still be new to many of your students. Holes is a fabulous story about family, history, and misconceptions about others.


Stanley Yelnats gets sent to Camp Green Lake (a work camp for juvenile offenders) over what he claims is a misunderstanding, which he blames on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather." But he soon discovers that there are more mysteries afoot at the ill-named camp and that these connections might reach back into the history of both that place and his family.

Reading Level: 5.2
Guided Reading Level: V
Lexile Level: 660L

Big Ideas and Discussion Topics

  • Responding to challenges. Stanley faces many difficult situations in the story, including both physical and social challenges. These can be great fodder for discussion about the choices he makes.
  • Multiple story lines. Midway through the book, the story line shifts to a series of chapters set in the past (but in the same location). Kids have to balance both the present-day story line and the in-the-past retelling, as well as make connections (and predictions) between the two.
  • Connections to the past. History and family connections come up again and again in this story. Students will need to make connections between the events in the present day and those in the past in order to understand the impact of the full story.

Suggested Chapter Breakdowns

I usually use four to six sections for Book Club discussions with my students. They meet twice a week (often Tuesdays and Thursdays), which gives us two or three weeks to finish any given round. When I first started I had many more Book Club divisions, but I found that kids had a hard time sustaining interest in a book when it became incredibly drawn out.

  1. Chapters 1-8 (pages 1-42)
  2. Chapters 9-16 (pages 43-76)
  3. Chapters 17-27 (pages 77-119)
  4. Chapters 28-35 (pages 120-159)
  5. Chapters 36-42 (pages 160-188)/li>
  6. Chapters 43-50 (pages 189-233)
[Please check page numbers against your own editions, as publishers sometimes change the size or shape of the book, which alters the page numbers.]

Which is better: the book or the movie?

(Click here for more Book Club recommendations.)

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