With many southern hemisphere schools starting their school year, I thought I’d drop in a read aloud recommendation to start the year with. This year I started the year reading Wonder by R.J Palacio.
This book is about an 11 year old boy by the name of Auggie Pullman who is born with with a severe facial deformity. The book documents his journey from home school to middle school and what makes it interesting is how the story is told from the perspective of different characters throughout the book.
I loved this book for several reasons
- It captures the nuances of cliques within school brilliantly
- It shows how we can all make choices to help make school more welcoming
- The message goes beyond the traditional ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ niceties we teach kids and looks at what friendship is really about
- Multiple perspectives helped children come to grips with the idea that we all have our own truths and navigating them requires strength and understanding.
- the injustices served as a catalyst for student action</li>
Palacio wrote a follow up ‘Julian chapter’ which chronicles the year’s events from Auggie’s nemesis. While the start of this particular chapter adds to the children’s understanding, the end seemed a tad unrealistic in comparison to the rest of the novel.
I throughly recommend this book as a read aloud at the beginning of the year. It did take the class almost two terms to read but the kids were genuinely sad to bid farewell to Auggie at the end of the journey.