George Lucas Educational Foundation

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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I started reading Wonder to a class of fifth graders. This is a new book about a boy who has a facial deformity. Auggie had always been home-schooled and protected from children who would hurt him. Fifth grade would be the first time he would experience school. So much of the story is Auggie's painful and heart-warming internal story, knowing that he would be stared at and alienated. All of the fifth graders loved this book and could relate to the "bullying," either because they were subject to bullying themselves, or bullied others at one time in their lives. Many students asked their parents to buy them the book so they could read with me, or read ahead. I believe in good programs, but when children relate to an age-appropriate, compelling story, they authentically work out their own issues.

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Penny B.'s picture
Penny B.
Elementary School Counselor in Fort Collins, Colorado

I've collaborated with a 5th grade teacher this year to bring Wonder to her class. For a little over a month, she did a daily read aloud while I did a more in-depth weekly emotional/social skills lesson based on whatever theme the book was focusing on that week (bullying, friendships, overcoming challenges, betrayal/forgiveness, etc). I have never seen a class more engaged around this topic before and it has been very exciting! Our most recent lesson had them writing a persuasion letter to other teachers in our school about why they should choose this book as a way to teach other kids about bullying and friendships. This lesson seemed to really help them understand the book's influential themes and how it can teach others. In our final lesson, they will each develop their own "precept" and display these on a bulletin board in the hallway. It's an amazing book for addressing a variety of themes that many kids can easily relate to.

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