Wonder: R. J. Palacio

Wonder

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

Advertisements

Thank You, Mr. Falker: Patricia Polacco

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Year: 1998
Brief Summary: An autobiographical story about Polacco’s struggles with reading and how one teacher in 5th grade helped her overcome her problem.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award, 1999 Winner Picture Books United States
Emphasis on Reading: A Children’s Choice Book Award Program, 2000 Winner Grades 3-5 Alabama
Keystone to Reading Book Award, 2000 Winner Primary Pennsylvania
Parents’ Choice Award, 1998 Gold Story Books United States
Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, 2000 Winner Rhode Island
South Carolina Children’s Book Award, 2002 Winner South Carolina
Storytelling World Award, 1999 Honor Book Stories for Pre-Adolescent Listeners United States
Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for PreK-Grade 6, 12th Edition, 1999 ; National Council of Teachers of English
Best Children’s Books of the Year, 1999 ; Bank Street College of Education
Children’s Book Sense 76 Picks, Fall 2001 ; Book Sense 76
Children’s Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson
Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson
Dealing with Alienation, 2000 ; Bank Street College of Education
Educators’ Top 100 Children’s Books, 2007 ; NEA Survey
Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, 1998 ; IRA Children’s Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District
Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, 1999 ; NCTE Children’s Literature Assembly
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 1999 ; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS
Recommended Literature: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, 2002 ; California Department of Education
Teachers’ Choices, 1999 ; International Reading Association

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

  • Discuss bullying…how does the bullying make Tricia feel?
  • Discuss different learning disabilities
  • Discuss traits such as hard work and perseverance.  How does Mr. Falker finally help Tricia over come her problem?  What are some things (academically or socially) that you struggle with and what are some ways you can keep from losing hope?  How does Tricia’s story help you?  How can she inspire you or someone who’s struggling to keep trying?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  

Accessed at: Signal Mountain Library

Mr. Lincoln’s Way: Patricia Polacco

Mr. Lincoln’s Way

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Year: 2001
Brief Summary:  Mr. Lincoln, “the coolest principal in the whole world,” helps a school bully, Eugene, change his behavior and learn the importance of celebrating one another’s differences.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

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

  • Discuss bullying…how does bullying make the kids feel?  Why do you think Eugene bullies?
  • Discuss intolerance/racism.  What did Eugene’s grandfather believe?  How does this differ from what his father believe?  How do their beliefs affect what Eugene thinks?
  • Eugene “almost” refers to Mr. Lincoln using the N-word…  Teachers might want to figure out ahead of time how to approach this touchy subject.  Children might ask about it, what it means, etc.
  • How does Mr. Lincoln finally reach Eugene?  What did Eugene learn at the end of the story?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  

Accessed at: Capilano Library