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Posts Tagged ‘Choose Kind’

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Wonder

I am reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio to my morning ELA class. We are moving through it slowly. I set aside time at the beginning of school. Then we got busy. But recently, as we are getting deeper into the story, the students remind me and keep me committed to daily reading aloud.

Last week we got to the second section written in the voice of Via. Via starts, “August is the sun, and we are the planets revolving around him.” This was a tough chapter to get through. I had to take a few deep breaths. The only place Via has ever felt the center of the universe is with her grandmother, and her grandmother dies suddenly.

Palacio’s book is real. The kids get it. They know what it feels like to be in a school like August’s school. But most children do not know what it is like to grow up with a disfigured face or to have someone in your own family draw attention when out in the world. Via describes this feeling. At home with August, she feels normal. She loves him like the little brother he is. She doesn’t understand how people stare, how they don’t see beyond his face. That is, until she does understand.

I read to my students books that move me, that will hopefully move them. What I wasn’t thinking about when I decided to read Wonder was Brooklyn. I have written about Brooklyn before. Back in 2012 when she joined my gifted class. I was impressed then about how she handled herself with such gentle poise and strength of character.

Brooklyn, like Via, is in the universe revolving around the sun, her brother. (See this post: Dare to be Different.) Bryce is a senior in high school and has accomplished amazing feats in sports. He is an international gold medal athlete in weightlifting and javelin. Bryce competes in para-athletics because he has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches. Bryce does not go unnoticed. People stare. Brooklyn says the little kids don’t bother her so much , but when she sees an adult stare, she wants to punch them. She knows that they stare in ignorance and curiosity, but it still makes her mad.

This day, when we finished reading, Brooklyn came to me for a hug. Her eyes were teary. She said, “I get it. I know how Via feels.” And then it hit me. Of course she does. This is Brooklyn’s life.

R. J. Palacio has created a powerful book that not only will help students learn to practice kindness, but Wonder also comforts those children who can relate to the experience of being different and wanting nothing more than to be normal.

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