Wonder: R. J. Palacio


Author: R. J. Palacio

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf

Publication Year: 2012

Brief Summary: August, a boy with extreme facial abnormalities, leaves the safety of his home and goes to school for the first time as a 5th-grader at Beecher Prep School.  Despite taunts and bullying from some of his classmates and other fears and anxieties every middle-schooler faces, Auggie is able to find beautiful friendships, persevere, and eventually rise out on top.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Amazon Editors’ Picks: Best Books of the Year, 2012
Booklist Book Review Stars , Feb. 1, 2012 ; American Library Association
Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth, 2012 ; American Library Association
Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth, 2012 ; American Library Association
Choices, 2013 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Kirkus Best Children’s Books, 2012
Kirkus Book Review Stars, December 15, 2011
New York Times Notable Children’s Books , 2012 ; The New York Times
Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books, 2012
School Library Journal Best Books, 2012
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, February 2012 ; Cahners
Washington Post Best Kid’s Books, 2012 ; The Washington Post

Personal Comments: I think this is a must-read for parents, teachers, and anyone who’s ever battled an issue that seems unbeatable, but especially for every child heading into 5th grade or middle school, perfect as a grade-wide book project or read-aloud.  It covers important themes such as friendship, family, and bullying, as well as gives students a glimpse into the life of someone living with a physical deformity.  Students and teachers alike will learn to see the world through another person’s eyes and hopefully become more empathetic, not just for kids like Auggie, but for anyone who struggles with an issue, whether it’s external or internal.  It is an important work that will appeal to — and touch — both boys and girls, ages 9 and up.

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Discuss various themes from the book: family relationships, unconditional love, friendships/cliques, middle-school challenges, bullying, human kindness, perseverance, hope, etc.
  • Talk about each of Mr. Browne’s precepts.  Assign each precept to a pair of students and have each pair discuss one precept and present their findings/interpretations to the class.  What does each precept mean?  Can the students come up with examples for each?  How might these look like in the students’ daily life?  Post these presentations in the hallway or in the classroom as reminders for the rest of the school year.
  • Have the students write their own personal precept — make a booklet of precepts for each class.
  • Science: talk about genetics, birth defects, other common childhood diseases.  Have students select a disease (junior diabetes, leukemia, etc.) and research further.  Older students can talk about causes, symptoms, possible cures/treatments, current medical findings, etc.
  • Link to discussion and educator guide.

Accessed at: Personal Library


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