“You really are a wonder, Auggie. You are a wonder.”
Spoken like a true mom, Auggie (August Pullman – the main character of the book Wonder) said this in awe of her own son towards the end of this book.
But the thing is Auggie is anything but an ordinary young boy and from the first line of “Wonder,” by R. J. Palacio, he (himself) tells the reader point blank:
“I know I am not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking is probably worse.”
You are probably asking why Auggie describes himself as anything but ordinary and then goes on to say people run away from him screaming when they see his face.
As Goodreads describes “Wonder“:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
I have to be honest and tell my readers from the get go that I never heard of this book until I started to read e-book through Overdrive for free through my public library as I shared here.
I saw the cover as I was scrolling through recently returned books. I read through the description and was intrigued. So, I put my name down on the wait list and got a company within hours that day. I had happily just finished the book I was previously reading.
As a former middle school teacher (and now parent too), I feel very strongly about teaching my own girls to treat others equally and fairly no matter what they may look like.Hopeful for My Girls…
I also am hopeful that my girls will be treated fairly by others their own age as they are growing up and in school.
See as a former middle school educator, I happened to be witness to past students feeling they were being treated unfairly or poorly by their peers (what would fall short possibly of bullying) , as well as knowing other students who were more aggressive and whose actions could have been taken for that of the aggressor or bully.
In these past cases, I was quick to intervene by making sure that these kids even if they couldn’t become friends could at the very least co-exist in school with each other.
It was my responsibility to make sure all my students not only learned what they should as far as academics, but also that they felt safe and protected in my classroom.
In “Wonder“, I was highly impressed by the educators’ role in handling the suspected bullying, as well as some of the parents a few were not on board, but towards the end thankfully amended their stance).
And yet as I was composing my thoughts on this book for this blog post, I had shared on Goodreads that I had indeed finished this book and was immediately asked by a good friend and blogger from Dinosaur Superhero Mommy, what I thought of “Wonder“.
I explained to her:
“This book was truly inspiring and gave me such hope that we can as teachers and parents make a difference to help. Granted this situation with the main character’s face was extreme, but I can see why this book is being used to help teach and educate young kids now against bullying.”
The thing is when I began to read “Wonder,” I didn’t know anything other then the description from the public library, but as I read it Emma had just started kindergarten for her first week of school, where ironically I was nervous, but trying to keep out hope that her first foray into elementary school would be filled with all good things for her.
I also just happened to be checking out the elementary school calendar for the month of September and there was a small picture of the cover picture of the author’s image of Auggie to explain that they were having a community discussion/assembly with the third to fifth graders about this book.
The more I read “Wonder“, the more I knew why the school is indeed using this book to help educate our kids in the community about why all children should get along even if they aren’t friends or necessarily would be outside of school and how being tolerant of one another in school is the key to making school not only a pleasant environment, but also a place they can feel safe and secure learning.
And yet I am no fool and know the world truly isn’t a perfect place, but can be a gentler and nicer place, especially for our young kids would be welcomed.
Throughout the book, we get to see the story through not only the eyes of Auggie, but others in the book like his older sister, the kids he does befriend in his new school and even the so-called ‘bully’ (Juilan), where we are treated to his side of the story and to understand his motives.
What we found out was that bullying isn’t as clear cut as you may think. Many times, as was here for Julian, fear was a major motivator. See Julian was afraid of the Auggie’s appearance and this fear was something that was preexisting even before he was introduced to Auggie as a classmate.
The main take way:
is that fear truly shouldn’t lead to bullying or any negative treatment of kids’ fellow peers.
You might might be asking if I would recommend “Wonder” and to whom?
First, I know it is written and can even be read by young kids, but am so happy that I did read this book, because I feel this book can also teach this mom (and former teacher) a lesson or two.
So, in answer to the original question, YES! I would totally recommend “Wonder” as a book to read to all teachers, especially new, plus all parents (new and old), as well.
Because as much as I have seen in the past on the subject of bullying or young kids not getting along, this book left me with ‘hope’ and ‘wonder’, to that if we come to together (parents and educators, as well) to promote this, we can truly make a difference in our kids’ world for the better.
And as Auggie summed it up perfectly after finally getting recognized by his family and friends for the truly WONDER – ful and amazing young man he is on the inside and outside, too:
“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life, because we all overcometh the world.”
I, for one, couldn’t agree more, because hope and wonder for this and so much more is what it is all about.
And one final note for today ironically enough, I had a kindergarten coffee hour meeting on last Friday morning for all the kindergarten parents in Emma’s school today and after attending that meeting am so very hopeful for all the WONDER – ful things to come for her this year in kindergarten and school!
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