Wonder by R.J. Palacio

by Stephanie Greene on September 3, 2012

The start of a new school year is ripe with opportunity and provide a chance to make new friends, learn new skills, and grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Books such as WONDER by R. J. Palacio can play a significant role as children navigate these important changes.

Ten-year-old August Pullman was born with severe facial deformities. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse, Auggie says in the book’s opening. Safe and beloved in his home-schooled environment until now, at the start of his story Auggie’s entering fifth grade in a public school for the first time in his life.

The book is told in alternating voices, starting with Auggie’s and switching to his older sister, whose life has been affected by having such a brother; his supposed new best friend, who betrays Auggie; his parents, and even his sister’s boyfriend. The chorus of different voices shows the reader the multi-faceted version of any story involving a person with physical differences. WONDER is an uplifting story about a community coming together, in fits and starts, to grow in compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Mary September 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I think it is quite novel of you to introduce the school year by talking about physical differences. So often, physical differences are noticed, but they are discussed. It is particularly important to talk about physical differences if someone in your classroom has a deformity. It is likely that the classmates want to talk about the deformity, but they do not know how or do not want to offend anyone. By opening up some discourse about physical differences, I hope that young readers can use this book as a tool to focus on their ” compassion, empathy, and understanding.”

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