I needed something lighthearted to read to my class following Spring Break. I picked up “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” because I knew my second graders would get a kick out of it and maybe some would pick it or its sequels up to read on their own.
What I didn’t realize was how much I would enjoy their laughter. They can’t wait for me to open the book each day. They settle in to listen quietly, just waiting for the first ridiculous line that tickles their funny bone. And every day, I am not disappointed.
First,, as they listen, someone inevitably mutters something like “…but that doesn’t make any SENSE” or “wait a minute, that’s not right”. And then, someone else blares out with a big “HA!” and the giggles begin. Before long, the whole class dissolves in laughter and we have to take a minute to get back to the story.
There are a couple kiddos who are my favorite laughers. One boy, who loses himself in his own books on any given day to the point of not hearing any of us around him, becomes so absorbed in the antics of the student in Wayside School that he lets out a crazy high-pitched “HEEEEE” almost before anyone else realizes the funny in the moment. I love when he does that, and I find myself thinking ahead as I read, trying to guess which part will get him going. He doesn’t disappoint!
One of my girls usually listens quietly and laughs with the others as usual…until something really big happens, when she sits up ramrod straight and bellows out a huge “HA!” and then doubles over with a loud belly laugh. Once she starts her shouts of laughter, we all lose it!
I always had fun reading this book with my first graders, but reading it with second graders this year makes me think they are the perfect age for the zany, nonsensical (but to them, perfectly logical) stories that are told. I guarantee they are going to remember this book for a long time to come!
(And yes, my belly-laugher checked out another copy from the library and is trying her best to read at least one story ahead of me…)