Every once in a great while, I read a book that I know will stay with me for a long time. It's a book that I immediately imagine having conversations with my students about. Wonder by R. J. Palacio is one of those books.
I first read it last winter as we searched for an All-School Read for our middle school. We had spent Spring Semester focusing on stopping bullying in our school. This seemed like a great way to continue the discussion. After considering a number of books, our principal made the decision to use Wonder. It has been an exciting, even moving, experience to see our students, and quite a few parents, read the book and be so touched by it.
The book is becoming part of our culture as all of our faculty look for ways to incorporate the book and its lessons into our classes. We chose Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well," as our theme verse for the year. For our Character Counts lessons, we have Wonderful Man (who is too good looking to take off his helmet!) Our PE teacher, who is also a wonderful photographer, created a bulletin board next to the office featuring our precious students and Wonder.
Practically everyone has had a time when he or she felt excluded or ignored. August's story shows us just how hurtful that can be, but it also demonstrates how to handle it with dignity and humor. By showing events from multiple points of view, Ms. Palacio reminds us that each of us comes from the sum of our experiences, and that there is always a reason for the way people act.
This is a book I plan to read with my students for many years to come. I look forward to hearing their thoughts and sharing our precepts. Thank you, Ms. Palacio, for creating August and sharing his story with us.
You can see other teachers' blogs about Wonder at www.choosekind.tumblr.com