My children hate writing book reports. I guess that they probably get this bad habit from me since I've been working on this post for much much much too long.
"Wonder" is a fiction book written by R.J. Palacio for young readers.
I had heard about "Wonder" from the Children's Craniofacial Association website. I bought it for my daughter at her school's Scholastic book fair. My daughter is 11-years old and in 5th grade.
The main character in "Wonder" is a 5th grade boy named August who was born with an obvious facial difference. The story is the tale of his first year in a main-stream private school in New York City.
My daughter read the book in 3-days. She was captivated by the story. I read it after and she and I spoke about it every day for about a week. After reading the story she was very curious about some of the things in the story since there are no pictures. Specifically what might August have really looked like and does that ever really happen?
As a mom, I found these discussions very helpful in my continuing mission to teach my kids to "be kind." My mom instinct (like a spideys-sense but for moms) tells me that just seeing me be nice isn't lesson enough. I remember thinking to myself when I was a teen that there was no way my parents could understand my life and my issues and I fully expect that my children thing the same things. Also sometimes my kids also see me be grouchy. We're together a lot and I do actually get grouchy. So, I find myself looking for places where I can really drive home a few key points that I think are imperative to being a good adult. Be kind is one of those big important points.
It's a good book for a young reader. Similar to how a fairy tale gives young children a way to discuss their fears this book gives preteens a safe way to talk about accepting differences and also mean kids.
In speaking with my mom friends I've learned that many elementary and middle school teachers have also found this book to be really special and helpful. I have not heard anything from my own kids school so I need to push that there.
If you haven't read it and it's not in your school I encourage you to get it. It is a best-selling book so it is for sale everywhere but you can buy it directly from the CCA and they will make some money. Raising money for the CCA is my goal in leading up to Ironman Lake Placid (if you haven't already heard.)
It is fiction for young readers. So as an adult some things were a little unbelievable. Mostly that there is a school administrator and staff that would be so enlightened as in this story. I must admit I have yet to run into a school administrator who is not a total nincompoop. But I did not share that with my daughter when we discussed it.
Like reading a fairy tale allows young children to face their fears reading and discussing this book gives young adults a chance to talk about some pretty serious issues that come up around middle school.
Little kids are blissfully unaware of the differences between each other. Introduce a toddler to another toddler in a wheelchair and they may not even notice and if they do notice they are just as likely to be envious of the other kid's chair with wheels as anything else. As an example when my daughter was 3 she had a summertime friend who was deaf and my daughter never even noticed. But around middle school kids become self-aware. Some pre-teens crave being just like everyone else and being different becomes a curse worse than anything. As adults we all lived through it. As a gross generalization I will say almost all of us have scars from surviving it.
So reading this book with my daughter gave us the opportunity to discuss several pre-teen relevant what ifs. What do I do if I'm in a situation with a person near me with a visible facial difference? Would I be able to not be afraid to be that person's friend? How would I handle it if there was somebody who seemed nice but turned out to really be mean?
Again, it is a good book definitely worth reading. It was on my radar because I'm currently raising money for the CCA on the road to Ironman Lake Placid. But it's a great book for every child to read.
The photo of the book above is my copy which I'll keep to read with my son when he's a little older. I plan to buy 4 more copies for my kiddos teachers (they each have 2 teachers) to have and to read if they haven't already.
My request from you - my readers:
Have you read Wonder? If you have I ask you to tell somebody else about it. Spread the word. If you haven't I ask you to read it. Check it out from your library or buy yourself a copy. Extra credit: check your children's school library. Is it there? If not ask them to get a copy or donate a copy to the school library.
Training this week went on schedule. 10 hours of training including 3 swims and a long bike of 54 miles. There are 145 days until Ironman Lake Placid. WOOT-WOOT!