What You Need to Know:|
• Wonder is an amazing story about the journey of a special little boy who has major facial deformities.
• This novel emphasizes courage, empathy and compassion.
• I have started to hear about whole schools that are reading this book together and then discussing it.
• Wonder should be required reading for all children in middle school. The lessons of kindness, voiced by R.J. Palacio,
through very authentic characters, are just too good not to be shared.
• This book should appeal to both boys and girls.
• Choose Kind is an anti-bullying website inspired by this book, where kids can go and share their stories
of kindness and compassion.
August Pullman is a new fifth grader at Beecher Prep. He is starting school for the very first time, because up until now, Auggie has been homeschooled. He has major facial deformities that have made going to school impossible. Auggie has had so many surgeries that he was never really out of recovery long enough nor was he ever strong enough, to attend a traditional school. Finally, his parents think the time is right.
"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."
And so begins Auggie's tale. Starting with his point of view, we hear what challenges he faces on a daily basis and how he feels about those challenges. Any child struggling to fit in will not only relate, but will probably be humbled, which is a good thing. The empathy emanating from this book will help those who don't fit in and will inspire and teach those who do fit in, to do more to help those around them. Acceptance is the key to this story. And what late elementary/early middle school child doesn't crave that.
The point of view switches throughout the book, so the reader also gets a look at how the community struggles with the problems of providing for Auggie's needs. There is so much bullying and casting out in our society today, and this book deals with those issues head on. In what becomes a book about hope and courage, the readers of this book don't have to have a disability, or have a disfigured person in their life, to gain a new understanding of friendship. That is the beauty of this story. It isn't about Auggie's face; it is about his spirit and the kind and loving people around him.
Not every character in this book shows compassion or is a good example to follow. There are children and adults who behave badly. This makes the story all the more authentic, and it teaches children some important lessons as well. I think it is brilliant of Palacio to show that adults, as well as children, may be flawed. Readers will learn through these characters that there is often a reason children are unkind, and unfortunately, sometimes it's because of unkind parents.
R. J. Palacio
2012, 320 pages
Friendship, Bullying, Self-Awareness/Discovery, Compassion/Empathy, Books for Boys
• What do you think of August? What do you think it would be like to be him?
• Do you think you would handle Auggie's challenges similarly? Why or why not?
• Which characters do you most relate to in this story?
• Do you know anyone like Summer? Why do you think Summer was immediately accepting of Auggie? Could you do
• Do you think Jack Will was conflicted? Why or why not?
• Do you know anyone like Julian? Why do you think Julian was so awful to Auggie?
• Do you think it is hard to be Via, Auggie's sister? Why or why not?
• Did you learn anything about friendship by reading this book? If so, what did you learn?
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