<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2893663824065720&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

SEL with ALM: Peak by Roland Smith

Posted by Anna-Lisa Mackey, PATHS Program CEO on Sep 30, 2022 1:32:40 PM
Anna-Lisa Mackey, PATHS Program CEO

This installment of our Socratic Seminar recommendations is the novel Peak by Roland Smith. This book is the first of a three-volume series, which also includes The Edge, Ascent, and Descent. This series has won many awards, including the ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, booklist Editors' Choice, National Book award, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. The SEL themes of this selection are overcoming obstacles and perseverance, feelings of rejection, goal setting, courage, and flexible thinking.


After getting arrested for scaling an NYC skyscraper, 14-year-old Peak Marcello has to choose between a juvenile detention center or joining his long-lost father on an expedition to Mount Everest. If he succeeds, Peak will be the youngest person ever to reach the top. If he doesn't, he could be one of the hundreds of casualties that the highest mountain in the world claims.  I found this book really interesting because, as much as I would love the experience of climbing the world's highest peak, I'm deathly afraid of heights. My hands were sweating for most of this book! So, if you have some students in class, who also are afraid of heights, a great discussion about handling fears is also an option!

Socratic Seminar Questions

Chapter 1

"The prisoners smiled at us as we tried not to run over their shackled feet on the narrow road. Their cheerful faces were covered in nicks and cuts from rock shrapnel... The prisoners looked happier than the soldiers did." The prisoners are obviously doing hard, manual labor by comparison to the soldiers.

  • Why do you think that the prisoners seem so much happier than the soldiers?
  • Does smiling always indicate happiness? Why/why not?

selwithalm-peakChapter 2

Peak finds himself 2/3 up the wall when the weather takes a turn for the worse. He goes over three options that he thinks are available to him: 1) finish the climb, 2) climb down, and 3) wait for the rescue. He chooses option 1.

  • What would you have done?
  • Can you think of any other options?

Chapter 3

Peak gets caught climbing the Woolworth Building and has to spend several days in the juvenile detention center. By day three, he is "climbing the wall (literally) until my counselor (that's what they call the guards here) told me to stop." Clearly, Peak HAS to climb. Sometimes it's hard to be who you are when it goes against what others want for you, or think you should do.

  • Have you had this sort of experience before?
  • Have you had to suppress who you are because of the situation or circumstances? 

"It took them a year to figure out my talent." We all have things we are good at—some obvious, some not so obvious.

  • What talents/skills do you have that you were surprised to find out about?

Emozi® Middle School Grade 7 lesson connections to PEAK

  • Unit1, Lesson 1: Introduction to Emotions
  • Unit1, Lesson 2: Character Traits
  • Unit1, Lesson 3: Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Unit1, Lesson 4: Confidence
  • Unit1, Lesson 5: Flexible Thinking
  • Unit1, Lesson 6: SMART Goals
  • Unit1, Lesson 7: Morals
  • Unit1, Lesson 8: Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Unit1, Lesson 9: Stress
  • Unit1, Lesson 10: Healthy choices
  • Unit1, Lesson 11: Conflict
  • Unit1, Lesson 12: Self-Perception

For more information about Emozi® Middle School, please visit our website at pathsprogram.com.

Try a lesson for yourself.

Preview Emozi Middle School