The novel Holes, is a Newberry Medal award winning book written by the successful author Louis Sachar. The book was published in September 2000, but the themes and characters in the story still remain timeless. Walt Disney turned it into a film in the year 2003. Many teachers teach this popular novel to their adolescent students in their classrooms. The most important aspect that is taught to young students from reading this book is the lessons that can be learned from the relationships of the different characters throughout the story.

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The story begins by describing a location called Camp Green Lake. The majority of the book takes place in this setting. The main character, Stanley Yelnats IV is a timid, and overweight boy with bad luck that was brought on to his family by a curse. He was accused of stealing famous baseball player Clyde Livingston’s shoes from a homeless shelter where they were donated. As punishment, Stanley was sent to Camp Green Lake. When Stanley arrives, he is surprised by the lack of green as well as the lack of water for miles and miles; he was surrounded by dust. At this camp Stanley, as well as the rest of the boys, are ordered to dig holes to “build character.” As Stanley spends more time at the camp, he realizes that him and everyone at Camp Green Lake is digging holes to look for treasure for the warden.

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I believe that each character in the novel has a significant role in the novel. The relationships between the different characters are unique to each other but can be easily related to the reader’s own life. This book is commonly used by teachers because the connection that each of the characters share with one another demonstrates to the reader or teaches the student an important value or lesson.

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There is one character in particular that struggles to fit in with the other boys at Camp Green Lake. Zero is a shy, timid boy who does not like to answer other people’s questions. The boys at the camp mock Zero and make the judgment that because he does not talk, that he is not smart. The character Mr. Pendanski does not respect Zero. He is even a figure of authority, but just like the boys in the camp, he is disrespectful to Zero. This is not what a professional relationship is supposed to be. On page 137 of the novel, when Mr. Pendanski finds out that Stanley was teaching Zero how to read he exclaims, “You might as well try to teach this shovel to read! It’s got more brains than Zero.”

The bond between the characters Stanley and Zero strengthens and grows as their adventure progresses at Camp Green Lake. Most of the boys at the camp look down on zero and make fun of his quiet personality. They believe that because he does not have anything to say, he is dumb. However by the end of the novel, Stanley learns to believe otherwise. When Stanley and Zero first made the deal to teach Zero how to read in exchange of an hour of digging Stanley’s hole for him, their friendship was almost non-existent. It was purely a business-like trade with their own best interests at heart. For example on page 82 in the novel after Zero asks Stanley to teach him how to read it says, “After digging all day, he didn’t have the strength to try to teach Zero to read and write. He needed to save his energy for the people who counted… His heart had hardened…” Stanley did not even regard Zero as being worthy of an hour of his free time before they began working together.

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As Stanley and Zero spent more time working with each other and exchanging life stories, their bond grew to be more than just a student-teacher relationship. For example in chapter 22, Stanley takes the time to notice that Zero is not dumb like people say he is. Zero states, “I’m not stupid… I know everybody thinks I am. I just don’t like answering their questions.” From that point on, Stanley gained a new kind of respect for Zero. For the first time, Zero had opened up to Stanley. Later in the novel, their true friendship is demonstrated when Stanley saves Zero’s life by caring his weak body up the mountain to try and bring him to safety. This shows Stanley’s true dedication to Zero as a friend, not just a teacher.
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This book is often used in classroom settings because it is not only engaging, but also beneficial for teachers to educate their students on social issues. The most common age group that the novel Holes is directed towards is for fourth and fifth grade students. Learning from these character’s relationships better prepares students for what they will experience on a daily basis through out junior high school. This is a time of growth and change for students. For most junior high-aged students, education is not their main priority. Wearing the right clothes, signing up for the coolest clubs, and having the most friends are things that junior high students are focused on. Just like Stanley judged Zero, many peers are judgmental at this age group. The relationship between these two characters shows that a great friendship can occur between anybody and that you should always give people a chance.

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The novel Holes does not only benefit the students, but also adds to a teacher’s education as well. I believe that this is the main reason why this book is so frequently used in the classroom setting. This novel gives teachers perspective. It allows them to recall what it was like to be that age and to struggle with the experiences that this age group endures. I am a middle level education major and plan on working in a junior high school. I understand that as I grow older and closer to my goal of becoming a teacher, I will have forgotten what it was like to be in junior high. I will not remember the stress that was caused by social situations or the silly judgments that were made. But my students will be living in that moment. They will be dealing with the conflict that I will not be able to recall. By reading this novel and using it in class, both the students and me will benefit. I will be able to become a better teacher by understanding and sympathizing with my students. I feel that to be a successful teacher, you must have some level of connection with the students while still remaining professional. This novel provides teachers with that ability to connect.

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From a future teacher’s perspective, this novel is beneficial to both the students and the teacher. I believe that this is why it is so frequently used in adolescent classrooms. The lessons that are learned from reading this novel are significant. Through the use of character relationships and connections, the author was able to create this learning tool for the classroom. Using this novel as a teaching aid will not only help the students learn lessons about friendship from the character’s relationships, but it will also be helpful to remind me as well as other teachers, of what students are experiencing at this stage in their life.