Monday, August 10, 2009

a great story

Last year, I read the book There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar (one of my favorite children's authors). I had no expectations of the book as I had never read it and really thought the title sounded silly. However, I like most of Sachar's books and I had it in my classroom library so I gave it a whirl. None of my fourth graders had ever read it, either, so it was an adventure for all of us!

The book is about a lonely little boy whom nobody likes named Bradley Chalker. Bradley has several "pretend" friends who are really little toys with whom he plays and talks. The book follows Bradley through the fourth grade as he grows and learns, with the help of Carla the counselor, to like himself. Of course, this revelation leads others to begin to like him as well.

The book is a tale that will make you laugh out loud and make you cry. I literally had to stop reading at one point because most of the kids in my class as well as myself were all in tears. We had to put it down so we could collect ourselves. In my humble opinion, this book is a MUST read! I couldn't stop thinking about it or talking to other teachers about it for days after we finished it.

Why is the book named what it is? I have no idea. There is one scene where another boy accidentally goes into the girl's bathroom and Bradley sees him, but the book is nothing like it might sound. Unless the author was trying to make a point that at this age, awkwardness is a necessary part of growth.

Teaching ideas:
  • Definitely skim the book first so that you can practice giving each of Bradley's "friends" voices. Otherwise, it gets a little confusing about who is doing the talking.
  • Many, many writing and journal topics can come from this book. For example, have the students talk about an imaginary friend they have/had; students can write about a time when they felt left out; most embarrasing moment
  • Visualize Carla's office from the author's description and create it in a diorama (we actually did a diorama in which Bradley moved from the three major points in the book)
  • Develop a puppet show with dialouge for the "friends"; create the puppets
  • Use a thesaurus and rewrite one descriptive paragraph with different adjectives and/or verbs
  • Create a digital book review using photostory.

Or, just enjoy the book for the excellent piece of fiction it is! There are many, many teachable moments in this one.

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