I have been waiting a long time to write a post about the children’s novel and now movie WONDER by R.J Pallacio.
Wonder tells the story of 10-year-old August Pullman, also known as Auggie, who was born with a facial birth defect known as Treacher Collins Syndrome. It about a boy who’s desperate to blend in, but is destined to stand out. After being homeschooled, Auggie enters school for the first time in fifth grade and has to cope with a range of reactions to his unusual appearance. Wonder is not only extremely moving but extremely honest and conveys an important message : kindness. Through the different characters’ viewpoints, you get to feel what children feel every day and more. This story is beautifully written and is truly a Wonder.
I have a special attachment to this children’s novel. As I read Wonder, I was in my best internship and close to graduating by Bachelors in Education. In this internship at Cedarcrest elementary school, I was lucky to have such an amazing cooperating teacher and until now the best mentor I could have asked for. That year, the grade 5 classroom was an unmotivated group of students and we both tried hard to get them interested in something, but we struggled. However, this changed when Wonder came along. Everyday, I read to the class; I even Skyped with them on the mornings I could not attend their class! Slowly slowly, you saw the interest building up. They asked questions, made comments, shared personal experiences and we were finally able to connect with them! That moment was my first memorable teaching moment!
Watching the movie Wonder also took me back to Grade 2B last year (2016-2017), a special teaching year for me. I learned a lot about what I value most as a teacher and kindness was most certainly on the list. In grade 2B, we were a family of 17 (16 children and 1 adult) and together we built our little nest where we could talk and learn about anything. We talked about some difficult topics such as grief, divorce, bullying, low self-esteem, what it means to be different, but we also learned a lot through these conversations and experiences. Together we learned about what success means, about hard work and determination, about friendship and about being good and kind to one another. After ending the school year I know that I may not have succeeded in teaching them everything that was part of the curriculum, but I succeeded in teaching them to be kind and to be empathetic. Watching Wonder reminded me of the importance of teaching kindness explicitly even though its not on the list according to curriculum!
Wonder is definitely a gripping book and amazing down to the last page. It is heartfelt, funny, sad, inspirational and very touching.
Quotes from Wonder
“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average– though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”
“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”