Tween

10 Book Recommendations for Kids Who Loved Wonder

by Melissa Taylor

Some books change the world. Some books change us. The best books do both.

If you’ve followed the “Choose Kind” movement based on R.J. Palacio’s book, Wonderyou know that Wonder does both.

Wonder pushes us toward compassion, empathy, and acceptance of differences. It reminds me of several other amazing middle grade chapter books that do the same thing. These books, like Wonder, will change the life of the reader.

  • Mockingbird

    by Kathryn Erskine

    Caitlin lives with Asperger’s Disorder, meaning her brain understands the world in a unique, more black-and-white way. Her older brother, Devon, used to help her make sense of the confusing things in the world, but he was killed in a school shooting. Caitlin tries to figure out his death and her world as her father retreats into his sorrow. This is a compelling story with hard issues that will leave you profoundly affected and better able to understand the perspective of someone with Asperger’s Disorder.

  • Stargirl

    by Jerry Spinelli

    I think all teenagers should read this book. Stargirl is a former homeschooler who begins public school for the first time. In a word, she’s weird. But she’s herself. Leo finds he’s both enamored and embarrassed by her. He wants Stargirl to act like other people, what he considers “normal.” The book forces us to ask the question: Do we conform to the pressures of the crowd or do we stick with our individuality? Which pretty much sums up the high school experience.

  • Ugly

    by Robert Hoge

    Author Robert Hoge was born with deformed legs and a giant tumor between his eyes. Numerous surgeries left him with a face that even his mother struggled to love. With honesty and grace, Robert recounts the struggles of growing up “ugly” and his determination to rise above life’s challenges. As a real-life Auggie Pullman, Robert’s story is a reminder that our shortcomings don’t dictate who we are and what we're capable of.

  • The One and Only Ivan

    by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao

    Stella, an elephant, lives next to Ivan, a gorilla and the narrator of this true story, in a run-down shopping mall. Stella gets sick, but before she dies, she makes Ivan promise to try to free the newly captured baby elephant named Ruby. Ivan starts to realize that Stella was right – maybe his enclosure isn’t a habitat, but a cage. He will do anything, including getting the attention of the humans with his crayons, to help Ruby. This story is heartbreaking, more so because it’s told in Ivan’s voice, but don’t worry, the animals get their happy ending. You’ll never look at a cage the same way again.

  • What the Moon Saw

    by Laura Resau

    Clara is forced to spend the summer with her Mexican grandparents in Mexico, grandparents she doesn’t know. She feels very confused and conflicted about her heritage, but by spending time in Mexico, Clara comes to understand who she is, and grows into herself. All of us can relate to these kinds of feelings, and it gives us a chance to understand the perspective of living within two distinct cultures.

  • See You in the Cosmos

    by Jack Cheng

    Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski has a golden iPod — one he hopes to one day launch into space as a record of life on Earth. On it he records his thoughts and adventures as he journeys from Colorado to New Mexico and then on to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Along the way, Alex uncovers secrets about his family that will change his life forever — with only his kind yet equally lost new friends to help him. A beautiful story about the importance of unconditional love and forgiveness in a complicated world.

  • Okay for Now

    by Gary D. Schmidt

    Doug’s family is poor and abusive. And to make matters worse, Doug can’t read. When he connects with a librarian who shows him Audubon’s bird paintings and how to draw them, Doug finally finds meaning and comfort in his challenging life. We realize that a person’s life behind the scenes might be nothing like we could have ever imagined. As Doug’s life changes, so does ours.

  • Out of My Mind

    by Sharon M. Draper

    Even though Melody has a brilliant mind with a photographic memory, because she has cerebral palsy, people see her as stupid. Melody gets a keyboard so she can communicate her once-trapped thoughts, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will see her differently. Melody’s story gives us insight into what it’s like to live with disabilities and the unfair judgments of others.

  • Wonderstruck

    by Brian Selznick

    Two separate lives in two separate time periods. Ben and Rose both secretly wish their lives would change. Ben longs for the father he’s never known; Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. The two stories are masterfully crafted — one in narrative and one with illustrations. When the stories intersect, you’ll truly be wonderstruck at the way our lives are all entwined.

  • The Book Thief

    by Markus Zusak

    It’s wartime in Nazi Germany, a time when children like Liesel are living with foster families, Jews are in hiding, and books are burned. Liesel steals books, books she wants to learn to read. Despite the horrors of the her brother’s death and the ongoing war, the books, her foster dad, the Jewish man named Max hidden in the basement, and her friend, Rudy, bring a sense of beauty and hope to Liesel’s life … and to ours for having experienced it with Liesel.

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