The Wednesday Wars is an example of a bildungsroman, or a coming-of-age story. Throughout his seventh grade year, Holling matures from a timid youngster who is pushed around by his family and peers to a confident young man on track to make a difference in the world. As students work to identify instances of Holling’s growth, storyboards can be an excellent way to keep them engaged. Have them depict moments in which Holling demonstrates character growth. Then, ask them to explain the scene’s significance below the image.
Holling starts out the year on poor terms with his classmates. Meryl Lee is upset with him and several of his classmates threaten to kill him over the cream puffs. By the end of the year, he develops strong friendships with classmates who support him at his play, cross country meets, and other places. He even has a girlfriend.
By the end of the book, Holling has become a dedicated cross country runner. Although he starts out running simply because he's told to, he eventually learns to take the sport seriously and train for a performance he can be proud of. Due to his hard work (and Mrs. Baker's training), Holling ends up being the best runner on the varsity team.
When Holling's sister runs away and ends up alone in Minneapolis, she turns to her brother for help. Holling shows his maturity and love for his sister when he cashes in his savings bond, wires his sister the money, and meets her at the bus station in New York City.
For the first few months of seventh grade, Holling sees Mrs. Baker as a strict, heartless teacher who is out to ruin his life. Over time, he realizes that she is a kind-hearted person with her own fears and concerns just like anyone else. He develops a good relationship with her, which is proven by his concern for her happiness and the safety of her husband. At the end of the book, he even speaks to her outside of school activities!
At the end of the book, Holling finally stands up to his father. After Danny's bar mitzvah, Holling's father mocks the ceremony. Holling tells his father that it was meaningful, and more important to becoming a man than having the perfect career. Holling has finally developed the courage to tell his father that he does not want to become like him: cold-hearted, cutthroat, and obsessed with appearance.
Grade Level 6-8
Difficulty Level 5 (Advanced / Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group
Type of Activity: Character DevelopmentCommon Core Standards
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