Holes

By: 

Louis Sachar

Number of Pages: 

240

Minimum grade level: 

6th

Stanley Yelnat's trouble began when he stole Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston's tennis shoes. Well, he didn't really steal them and his troubles actually went back much further to his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, but none of that mattered now that he was stuck at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention center that was really a dried up lake in Texas without even a trace of green. What the camp did have was rattlesnakes, deadly yellow-spotted lizards, inmates with names like Armpit, X-Ray, and Zero, and a warden who was way beyond nasty.

The next 18 months for Stanley Yelnats were not going to be fun. Every day Stanley and the other inmates each had to dig a hole in the lake 5 feet deep and 5 feet wide. The only relief came if you dug up something that interested the warden. If this happened, then you might get to take the rest of the day off. Two weeks into his sentence, Stanley did discover something and the warden was interested, but Stanley never got the rest of the day off.

What did Stanley find and how did he survive those long hot days at Camp Green Lake? Read Holes to find out.

Discussion questions

  1. Why is the book called Holes?
  2. Besides the boys, who else dug holes at Green Lake?
  3. How does digging holes help Zero and Stanley survive?
  4. Was there a hole in Stanley's life when he went to Camp Green Lake? Was it still there when he left? Why or why not?
  5. What "holes" are there in the story for the reader? How are they "filled in"?
  6. Besides the title, the characters' names are also symbolic. Discuss the importance of names in the book. What is the significance of Stanley's name being a palindrome? Talk about the the names in the book, particularly the nicknames given to the boys at Camp Green Lake.
  7. There are many parallels between the different stories told in Holes. Explain the importance of these recurring themes: peaches, onions, lizards, Mary Lou.
  8. Compare the song that appears throughout the book with the version that ends the book. How does the tone and meaning change? How does that reflect the changes that occurred in the book?
  9. Find examples of irony and dark humor in the book.
  10. At the heart of this story is a fable. Discuss the moral of this fable.
  11. Who are the important characters? What does each character represent?

If you liked this book, try

  • Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Snacks

Peaches

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.