By learning how to persevere in spite of hardship, your students will thrive inside and outside the classroom. But how do you teach perseverance? Engaging books, like the award-winning novel Holes, by Louis Sachar, are great tools for helping young readers understand the importance of perseverance and determination. Through reading, they may even be inspired to cultivate these qualities in their own lives.

Plus, check out these 100 books that build character

In Holes, young Stanley Yelnats has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where he’s forced to spend his days “building character” by digging holes five feet wide and five feet deep. But it doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize his digging isn’t strictly for his own self-improvement—it’s really in service of a conniving warden in search of treasure. Naturally, Stanley is determined to dig up the truth.

This book will not only provide students the opportunity to learn about perseverance and determination through Stanley’s experience, it will inspire them to reflect on the role perseverance has played in their own lives and how it can impact their future.

Here are a few tips for teaching perseverance to your young readers using Holes:

1.     Before reading, discuss the meaning of perseverance and determination with your students and encourage them to think about experiences in their own lives where they persevered and showed determination. Ask them to choose one experience and write a few sentences about what motivated them to persevere and whether they succeeded.

2.     Throughout the story, Stanley shows determination, perseverance, and strong will just by enduring the harsh conditions at Camp Green Lake. While reading, have your students consider these questions about Stanley’s experience:

  • What motivates Stanley to persevere each day?
  • What role do his relationships with other characters play in his motivation?
  • What lessons can be learned from Stanley’s experience?
  • Does perseverance always pay off in the end? Why, or why not?

3.     After reading, ask students to identify a goal they have for the school year and write about the challenges they must overcome to achieve it. Encourage them to reflect upon the lessons they learned from Stanley’s experience to devise a plan to persevere. To conclude, ask them to write about how they will feel if they achieve their goal and the emotions they’ll experience if they don’t.

Reading novels like Holes, featuring strong-willed and determined characters like Stanley, is a great way for students to learn about perseverance and the important role it will play in their future success. For more books and tools to teach your students about perseverance, determination, and other important character traits, check out these engaging resources.

Want more great content? Click here to subscribe to our Teacher Newsletter and get teaching ideas delivered right to your inbox.