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Ever Wonder About “Wonder”?
During the 2017-2018 school year, I was teaching grades 1-4 in the school library setting. We did a special unit on the book Wonder, but did not have time to dive in deeply and read the book. Since the students were younger, we read the children’s picture book We are all Wonders by RJ Palacio. This is the same author as the book Wonder. This was the year that the movie came out and was a big hype with all ages of students I was teaching.
This school year, I am teaching a very curious group of middle schoolers. I am teaching 5th through 8th grade and my classroom is all about math, even though I am an elementary teacher at heart and know the value and importance of reading. My students saw a book on my desk that I was reading during break time and it led into an interesting conversation about bible studies and book clubs. It has been quite some time since I was in a book club and a few of my students were eager to try it out. After some collaboration and discovery to see what books were available at my school, I decided I would give a book club try out with my students.
A few weeks ago, I asked the ELA teacher next door what books were available. She mentioned Wonder.
I knew that was exactly the book that I wanted to have a book study on with the students. I try to read, but life happens. Even though this is a children’s novel, this has been on my list to read for quite some time. I knew I would have time to read and complete the book if I made it a point to read with the students.
“In a world where you can be anything, Be KIND.” In my opinion after reading the first few chapters of the book, I knew this was a good fit for our book club/study and for middle school age students. I know that it is sometimes hard to be kind to everyone, but in the book Auggie and some of the other characters show the value and importance of kindness. This story is relatable to students and especially middle schoolers when the world is constantly changing around them.
I paired the book with a $2 thrift shop find, Choose Kind Journal. Of course, we have a designated part of the book to read, but we would always combine it with a daily kindness challenge from the journal. In the journal, I like how the date always had a quote and then a daily challenge. The students enjoy the challenges as well.
A colleague and a teacher friend, probably the most beautiful person I know inside and out, always does a lesson and unit on Auggie and Wonder.
She inspired me to find time to read this book.
Mrs. Dene’ Dauzat, a veteran educator who strives to bring light into her students’ lives, recalls the positive impact of this truly heartwarming book. She shares, “Wonder is a phenomenon in my 6th grade English classroom at St. Ignatius School. Not only does it promote acceptance, tolerance, compassion, strength, and kindness, but also opens up the narrative of bullying and the importance of being born to not fit in but stand out. Each of these themes and valuable lessons are so powerful to this age group, where communication about life affecting topics is needed. The engagement of my students during our reading process and many meaningful activities is unmatched with utmost enthusiasm. With this book, I truly see an eagerness for learning and, most importantly, a yearning to make the world a better place. It is without a doubt a favorite read for us and by incorporating such relatable discussions, writings, and projects, they’ll never forget their Wonder experience.”
Mrs. Dene’ and her students create a “Be the ‘I’ in Kind” sign on campus to promote Kindness.
Her Students created self portraits, like those in the book chapters and choose a favorite precepts to celebrate Auggie’s birthday. (not pictured)
All in all, if you are an adult, parent of a young teen, or just a person wanting a good read… Wonder might be a good choice for you.
Since the book club, we researched other books by RJ Palacio and realized she has many options that follow up or act as a sequel to this book.
- Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories
- Wonder: Illustrated Edition
- 365 Days of Wonder
- Wonder: Adult Edition
- Shingaling: A Wonder Story
- Pluto: A Wonder Story
- Wonder: The Julian Chapter
As a teacher, after reading a novel or a book I always try to find a movie or cartoon clip that relates to the story. In 2017, Wonder the Movie came out to theaters. I have not seen the movie, but am looking forward to watching it with my students in the book club. We have plans to end our book club by watching the movie. We will do one final lesson/activity and compare and contrast the movie and the book.
If you would like to see a breakdown of the book club via weeks, please send me an email at [email protected] and I can send you the document.
I’ll wrap this up with a few of my favorite quotes from the book…
- “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
- “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
- “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
- “Kinder than is necessary Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
- “It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”