Granted, I’m not all that old, but I like to think I can say things like, “waaaaaaay back in the day, I read all 3 Wayside School books.” Hats off to Louis Sachar for creating some of the weirdest, yet best books I ever read as a kid! Sideways Stories from Wayside School is a book about Wayside School: 30 stories high with one classroom per story (except for the 19th floor). The stories are admittedly very strange, but seem to have just the right length of chapters (short), difficulty level, and “weirdness” for elementary-aged kids. I don’t know if I identified with this school because my elementary school in Winchester, MA, Lincoln Elementary, had one grade per floor (not one classroom per floor, but I still thought it was cool) or what, but anyone from my “generation” who has ever run across this book has loved it.
My personal copy had long since disappeared, but when I came across a tattered and torn copy at my local Goodwill store I had to have it immediately-and it fit the grad student budget juuuuuuust right! I decided to introduce it to my artic client this quarter- a 9 yr. old boy working on his /s/, /z/, and postvocalic /r/ sounds-once he reached the reading linguistic level for productions. Not only did he LOVE the book (mom and dad went out to buy their own copy that day), but just think of all the target sounds I was getting in just the title alone: Sideways Stories from Wayside School. With characters like Mrs. Gorf, Louis, and Miss Zarves, it was a target-sound-gold-mine!
I think there’s sometimes an inclination to default to cool technology with all the bells and whistles in therapy, especially with the 9, 10, 11 year olds. Don’t get me wrong, we pulled the iPad out all the time and there was never a shortage of basketball throwing or tennis ball “darts.” BUT, as a recent kid myself, I think it’s still hugely important to remind kids that reading aloud can be a great chance to practice target sounds and have a ball at the same time! The Wayside School magic just seems to get kids hooked and offer countless opportunities for great productions. In addition to Sideways Stories from Wayside School, there’s also Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger.