A few days ago, we started reading the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio. In my opinion, this is the most important book teachers of early adolescents can read with their classes. The book takes place in present-day New York City. It is written from six different characters' points of view. Auggie, the main character, starts the book by describing his many surgeries and why he has never been to a traditional school before. The book then takes the reader through Auggie's first year as a middle school student. Starting middle school is a tough transition for most kids. For Auggie, it's particularly tough because he doesn't look like the other kids. Palacio never fully describes what Auggie looks like, but we do come to learn that he has a cleft palate, a small jaw, and some other craniofacial differences. Family, friendship, bullying, being different, and many other important and sensitive issues are addressed skillfully by Palacio.
Not only is Palacio's message of anti-bullying and compassion powerful, but so are the conversations it sparks between students. Last week, we started a Wonder discussion board in class (see pictures below). So far, we have only read 56 of the books 315 pages. However, we've already had tons of rich conversations. I'm looking forward to seeing where the novel takes us next!
|Our class Wonder discussion board. Zoomed-in images are below.|