Welcome to Brightly’s Book Club for Kids! This time around we’re thrilled to introduce Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder is a glorious exploration of the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear, and most importantly, kindness. A moving read for both kids and adults, it’s a story of one boy’s journey of self-acceptance and an examination of how the ordinary can sometimes be extraordinary.
About the Book
Best For: Ages 8 and up.
You’ll Like It If You Like: Books with unusual, unique main characters facing difficult challenges or obstacles in their lives. If you’ve read and enjoyed Freak the Mighty, The Thing About Georgie, and/or Schooled, then we think you’ll love Wonder. It’s also a great book for anyone looking to expand their horizons, challenge their perceptions, or be inspired.
It’s About: Wonder takes readers back to the uncertainty and awkwardness of middle school, with its fragile friendships and quicksand-like social structures. Into all this Palacio thrusts August Pullman, a boy born with facial deformities so severe he won’t even describe what he looks like because, as he says, “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” The story, told by multiple narrators, follows Auggie, his family, friends, and fellow students as he navigates a new school and the challenges that come with it.
Why We Picked It: This story tackles difficult subjects with grace and humor, and offers adults and children alike a way to explore their prejudices and vulnerabilities while emphasizing the ability of kindness to bring us all closer. You’ll find yourself rooting for August as he stumbles through middle school with the kind of pluck and bravery that will remain with you long after you finish the last page.
What Kids Are Saying:
“Wonder is SOOOOO GOOD! I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading for a long time straight because it’s so good you can’t put it down!” —Annabelle, age 12
“I have lots of favorite parts!” —Estelle, age 12
“I really like Auggie. I hope people read this book and learn to be more kind.” —Cooper, age 9
The Book Club Meeting
Reading Tips: Wonder asks its characters — and its readers — to view things from other points of view and consider other people’s feelings. When you’re reading the book, think about why people see things differently and which characters are the most, and least, empathetic or sympathetic. (Not sure of the difference between empathy and sympathy? Grab a dictionary!) When you’re discussing the book, make sure to be respectful of each other’s opinions and listen carefully to what every person has to say.
- Because of his appearance, people often react to Auggie by looking away. How does that affect him? How does he respond? Have you ever seen someone whose appearance shocked or surprised you? How did you react? After reading Wonder do you think you’ll behave differently in the future?
- You don’t find out what Auggie looks like right away. Why do you think the author kept his appearance mysterious? Were you surprised when you read her description?
- Do adults and children treat Auggie differently in the book?
- Why did the author include so many different points of view? Did you find it helpful to see Auggie through other people’s eyes? Which narrator’s story did you enjoy reading the most? Who do you think was the most honest?
- Who are Auggie’s friends? What are they like?
- Even though Auggie’s story can be very sad, the book is full of humor. Were there any parts that made you laugh? Why was humor so important to this story?
- How does Auggie change over the course of the book? Why? Do other characters change? Who changes the most?
- What is a precept? (Don’t be afraid to pull out the dictionary!) What was your favorite precept from the book? If you had to write your own, what would it be?
- How do you imagine Auggie in five years? What do you think his life will be like when he’s an adult?
- Would you recommend this book? If so, who would you recommend it to and why?
Diving Deeper into Wonder
Random Acts of Kindness: The theme of kindness is at the heart of Wonder, so make a plan to “Choose Kind.” Or practice random acts of kindness — try baking cookies for your local fire department, filling backpacks for foster children, or using some of your allowance to donate to your favorite charity. You can also do something kind for someone in your family. Choose something that makes you feel good and do it!
Go to the Movies: Wonder is now a major motion picture, coming to theaters in November 2017. Make sure to read the book before you go (and don’t forget the tissues).
Donate to Daisy: Auggie’s pet Daisy is an important part of his family and when she dies, they get a new puppy, Bear. The Pullman’s pets help bring them together. If your family are pet lovers, too, spend some time together at your local animal shelter volunteering to give a homeless pet some attention and love, or collect donations of pet food and supplies and drop them off after school one day.
Family Awards: At graduation, Auggie gets a special award that represents his growth and his inherent decency. Choose an honor for each member of your family to show them what you value about them and why. If you are artistic, create medals or certificates with designs that showcase the special qualities of the award recipient. Is your mom the funniest, your dad the best cook, or your sibling the most loyal? Now is your chance to tell them how you feel!
What to Read Next
If you loved Wonder and want to read more books like it, check out Brightly contributor Melissa Taylor’s fabulous list of books that encourage compassion and empathy and understanding of all of the things that make us different.
If you want more of R.J. Palacio’s unique writing and uncanny ability to create characters readers can relate to, check out her other Wonder-inspired stories, including the brand-new picture book We’re All Wonders, and these fun keepsakes:
Designed for younger readers, this gorgeous picture book explores the life of beloved Auggie and his dog, Daisy. Through Auggie's story, we learn the importance of kindness and friendship. This story will resonate with every child that has longed to find their place in the world, and to be accepted for who they truly are.
Listen to a clip of the audiobook version of We're All Wonders, beautifully read by Kivlighan de Montebello:
This book features conversations between English teacher Mr. Browne and Auggie, Julian, Summer, Jack Will, and others, giving readers an insight into their lives after Wonder. Mr. Browne’s essays include a precept for each day of the year, all of which praise goodness and strength.
This collection of stories gives readers a special look at Auggie’s life before Beecher Prep, and during his first year there, through three new points of view: Julian, the bully; Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, Auggie’s new friend.
This journal is filled with inspiring quotes from Wonder and 365 Days of Wonder. It expands the meaning of the novel by letting readers relate to Auggie with their own experiences and thoughts.
This bright blue note cube has 368 tear-out sheets to be filled with nice thoughts, thoughtful notes, and quick lists.
These notebooks — one lined, one blank, one bulleted, and one graph — are a colorful gift for Wonder fans, a useful back-to-school purchase, and colorful merchandise that can be traded among friends.
Let us know what you thought of Wonder in the comments below!