I have to admit that with all of the events going on this summer (work, school, family, friends, concerts, weekend shopping dates) I have not completed as many books as I had originally planned. However, I did finish a book that I have been trying to get through since June.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio was nothing like I expected it to be.
I had a hard time getting into this book at first because of the voice of the text. Granted, the book was written from the mind of a 5th grade student named August, yet I still imagined August as a much more sophisticated student than his peers.
The story begins with a description of August, a young boy who lives in a loving, supportive home with a cute little dog named Daisy. At first, August seems like a normal 5th grade child; one who runs and plays in the yard, gets dirty all the time, and has an obsession with Star Wars. Later, we find out that August has a rare facial abnormality that limits his activity; he doesn’t have a lot of friends, he regrets going out in public because of the way people look at him, and fears exploring the world and its wonders because of the judgement the world brings to him. August’s worst fears are finally faced when we is asked to attend a public school for the first time in his entire life.
Throughout the book, the reader is constantly reminded about the struggles of being a kid, growing up in world full or “popularity rules,” judging eyes, and the battle of making “real” friends. As August faces these challenges, he learns the true value of friendship as the reader is taken through a journey back to 5th grade. Being “normal” and trying to make friends and fit in with your peers is hard enough when your 10 years-old. It’s even more difficult for August, who first has to accept himself before other kids his age can accept him. A heart touching story, Wonder is definitely a book that all future elementary teachers and current elementary teachers should read.
I have grown this desire to read books about unique characters like August in Wonder. Some of the things that I learned from this book that I believe will benefit me in the future are listed below:
- All kids are unique. They all have their own struggles and battles to fight. Don’t assume all kids have the same difficulties even if they are in the same age group.
- We shouldn’t “classify” our students. August was accused for being a special needs student by his peers when that was very far from the case.
- As a teacher, be aware of the issues that students face. These issues are not secret and kids do talk.
- Kindness can go a long way.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover, you never know who will surprise you.
By the end of this book, I was very surprised with this young boy in the story. He truly represented the himself as a real wonder.