Louis Sachar: Life Lessons Taught Through Playful Narratives

Louis Sachar uses whimsical storytelling to share life lessons to kids. His beloved book, ‘Sideways Stories from Wayside School’ has lessons you should know!

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Louis sachar wayside school

Every time someone asks me what’s my favorite book, I’m always stumped. It’s a loaded question! But my easy cop-out is answering with my favorite childhood book. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar is an easy pick for me, as it teaches life lessons I live by now as an adult. I had the pleasure to teach this fun story to second-grade kids last summer. To say we laughed our butts off the entire read would be an understatement. Here are lessons I taught to them, and that I live by on a daily. 

What’s easy for you may not be easy for others

Just because something comes easy to you, doesn’t mean it may be easy for others. And so when you make fun of or judge a person based on their capabilities, you’re just being plain rude and are probably only belittling the person to make yourself look better. What may be something simple or comes easy to you, may not be like that for others. So instead of judging them, ask if they need help.

“Now, now,” said Mrs. Jewls. “What’s easy for you may not be easy for Joe, and what’s easy for Joe may not be easy for you.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Louis Sachar

Quality is always better than quantity

I would rather have one amazing, gut-wrenching story between my fingers than read a thousand mediocre stories. The same goes for watching movies, eating a good meal, or having friends. You may have hundreds of friends on social media, but do you consider any of them as valued friends? Lean towards quality of life rather than quantity.

“No,” said Mrs. Jewls. “That isn’t how you measure art. It isn’t how many pictures you have, but how good the pictures are. Why, a person could spend his whole life just drawing one picture of a cat. In that time I’m sure Bebe could draw a million cats.”

“Two million,” said Bebe.

Mrs. Jewls continued. “But if that one picture is better than each of Bebe’s two million, then that person has produced more art than Bebe.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Let people be happy

Let’s be honest, you don’t always need to have a reason for a good cry! But there are times in which you feel the most content– the world is bliss and there is someone out there who wants to rain on your parade because you’re in a good mood, and they aren’t. “What’s got you so smiling?” I’m happy because I can, because I am, and because I want to be. That’s the life motto we should all live by.

Louis, the yard teacher, called, “Hey, D.J. Come here.”
They walked to the far corner of the playground, where they were alone.
“What’s up, D.J.?” Louis asked.
D.J. just smiled.
“Come on, D.J. You can tell me. Why are you so happy?”
D.J. looked up at him. He said, “You need a reason to be sad. You don’t need a reason to be happy.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Sideways Stories from Wayside School book cover

If you don’t have something nice to someone, don’t say it

Sachar uses satire throughout Sideways Stories From Wayside School. It’s best shown through the three students named Eric. The three are nicknamed in cruel manners by poking fun of their weight.

“Good morning, Allison,” said Eric Ovens. “How are you?”

“Lay off, ‘Crabapple’! Will ya?” answered Allison. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School

You see! If you don’t like someone, you have every right to feel that way, but if you can avoid saying something rude… please do! Why would you purposely make them uncomfortable because you don’t like them? This is, of course, voided if they are mean first.

Sometimes you can learn lessons from kids

Kids are a lot smarter than you think. How? As adults, our view of the world can be a bit tainted and shadowed by what we’ve encountered, while kids still have fresh minds that don’t have personal biases. Kids will always surprise you.

“Allison,” said Mrs. Jewls. “You learned a very important secret today, and I don’t want

you to tell any of the other children, not even Rondi.”
“What was that?” asked Allison. She didn’t even know she had learned a secret. She loved

“You learned that children are really smarter than their teachers,” said Mrs. Jewls. “Oh, that’s no secret,” said Allison. “Everybody knows that.”

Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Louis Sachar is a grand writer that every adult and child should read together. It’s a laugh-out-loud type of fun that you can’t pass up.

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