As soon as I heard Donalyn Miller give a rave review about Wonder by R.J. Palacio back in 2012, I knew I had to get my hands on it. More than a year later, I got my chance when Booksource’s book club decided to read it. Last month, we got together to discuss. The consensus? Everyone should read Wonder!Wonder

Meet Auggie, a 10-year-old boy born with an extreme facial deformity. Auggie isn’t impaired in any other way, but his facial deformity, and more than a dozen surgeries during his short life, have kept him out of school and safe from judging eyes. In his tenth year, Auggie is doing great and his parents think he should start going to school with other children. Hesitant at first, Auggie soon warms to the idea (in large part due to the fact that the principal’s name is Mr. Tushman—middle school humor, gotta love it!) and he enrolls at Beecher Prep. Told from the multiple perspectives of different people in Auggie’s life, Wonder follows Auggie’s first year at Beecher Prep.

In the story, Auggie’s English teacher, Mr. Browne, shares a precept with his students each month and asks them to write a reflection on it. Mr. Browne’s September precept is, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” (Wow. I think I need to be reminded of this every day.) Wonder ultimately speaks to the power of choosing kindness, choosing love. Auggie and the people around him change and grow because they choose to be kind. Those who don’t, lose out.

Other great thoughts shared by Booksource book club members:

Rarely do books show emotion from a young boy’s point of view. This one shows it not only from Auggie’s, but from Jack’s as well.”

This book made me feel like I was a part of this class and these kids were my friends, too. They seem to still be with me, which is why when I found out about the “Julian” chapter, I quickly purchased it and gobbled it up over lunch one day!

Wonder appears to be about a boy with a deformity, but it clearly becomes a book about how everyone faces struggles and challenges and how it is important to realize that some challenges aren’t so easily seen.

Mr. Browne’s precepts made me think about precepts I’ve heard in life that I still hold on to. My mom always says, “Have a good day! Make it a good day!” I used to hate it as a kid, but now I get it. You have a lot of power over your own self.

Further Wonder-related reading and resources:
-NPR story about the surprising inspiration for Wonder : How One Unkind Moment Gave Way to Wonder
– A book we are super excited about: 365 Days Of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts, available August 26.
The Choose Kind blog with great resources for teachers!