There's only one thing Jess Aarons is looking forward to in fifth grade, and that's being the fastest kid in school. He's been practicing all summer. He hasn't had much else to do, since his mom spends all her time with his four sisters and his dad is always working.
But when Jess arrives at the school playground to show off his speed, his new neighbor, Leslie Burke, beats him to it. She's way faster than Jess. But instead of being jealous, Jess admires Leslie's skill, confidence, and wild imagination. The two become instant friends, spending hours in the woods by their houses creating a magical kingdom. Then tragedy strikes, and Jess is left alone. How can he ever go on? Only when Jess is able to come to terms with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him. I would use this book in a 4-6th grade classroom to teach several things. I would first off use this story to teach students the importance of acceptance. You do not have to have anything in common to be nice to one another. I would also use this story to teach students how valuable it is to have a friend. Jess and Leslie used there unlikely circumstance to become fast friends and get through situations they could not have gotten through alone. Finally, I would use this story to teach students how to deal with the tragedy's that life throws our way. Tragedy is bound to happen and students need to know how to make the best out of horrible situations.