When our daughter was in the 4th grade, one boy mercilessly teased her because she needed braces.
The orthodontist said more permanent teeth needed to grow in before she could get braces. So, she had to wait.
Because of the teasing, our daughter covered her mouth with her hand whenever she smiled. (I was so mad at that boy and how his teasing affected my daughter!!)
Needing braces is no big deal — especially when compared to having craniofacial anomalies.
“I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go . . .
“. . . My name is August, by the way. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
So begins the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Because of his facial deformity, Auggie’s mother homeschooled him until the 5th grade. That’s when she decided it was time for him to enter public school.
All Auggie wanted was to be treated like an ordinary kid. But some of his classmates just couldn’t get past how he looked. Kids shunned him. Did mean things to him. Said mean things about him. Acted one way to his face and totally opposite behind his back.
Then, Summer befriended him. She sat by him at lunchtime. Holy cow! That stunned other students! What was wrong with her?
She found out that Auggie had a great sense of humor. He was fun to be around. She didn’t let his looks stop her from being his friend. She even went as far as choosing him as a partner for a school project.
Slowly, ever so slowly, kids’ attitudes started changing. All because one student chose to be kind to Auggie.
The point of view in the book weaves between Auggie, his classmates, his sister, and even his sister’s boy friend. This shows how Auggie’s deformity affects them and how some of them struggled with their fluctuating feelings because of Auggie.
This book is for kids ages 8-12. But I think that grandparents or parents could read this to kids as young as 6 and they could certainly understand it. And, teens and adults should certainly read it.
In fact, this book inspired the Choose Kind movement.
Here are some resources that you can use with your grandchildren to encourage them to choose kindness —
things like stickers, posters, and e-cards to send to others.
There are educational things on that site that teachers can do with their classroom. If you know a teacher, you might want to chat with her to see if she is aware of the Choose Kind movement. She might want to incorporate the book into her curriculum. You could even volunteer to help her with her class Choose Kind activity!
You know, there’s lots of bullying going on. This book and the Choose Kind movement is one way to combat it. Do your part to promote kindness with your grandkids and in your community!
Word on the street has it that this book is being made into a movie that will come out in April 2017. So, read this book with your grandkids, discuss it, have your own Choose Kind movement, and then go see the movie when it comes out.
Remember when I wrote about the book Out of My Mind? That book was about a girl who had cerebral palsy. I believe that these two books are a must read because it helps children understand what children with these disabilities are going through.
Remember, too, the reading incentives that I shared with you where kids can earn prizes, books, and tokens for Chuck E. Cheese? Reading Wonder can help your grandkids earn those incentives.
Don’t forget the free printable of a summer reading challenge that I created a while back. This gives 40 different (and fun!) ways for kids to read. It jazzes up reading time so that your grandkids will have fun while reading Wonder.
Happy reading for one and all!