My book club selection from the month was Wonder by R.J. Palacio and I was initially a tiny bit disappointed that we settled on a children's book. But, wow. Oh wow. I was so, so, so wrong. I absolutely loved this book and now I'm making all my children read it.
Wonder is the story of August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy with congenital facial abnormalities, and his journey into public school - middle school at that! - for the first time in the fifth grade. We hear the story through August's voice as well as from his older sister, kids at his new school, and other kids in his life. As you can probably suspect, not everyone at Auggie's new school is accepting -- in fact, most are not -- and he goes through a lot of heartache.
As a parent, the ONE thing in this world I want my children to be is kind. The fourth graders are both on the cusp of that age where kindness becomes second to coolness. And so while it's age appropriate that we're starting to experience a little bit of "mean" behavior, it also kind of breaks my heart. I want them to be kind; I want others to be kind to them. The main reason I'm "forcing" the kids to read this book is because the message that everyone deserves kindness, everyone has feelings. Even the person who looks different from you. I truly want them to read Auggie's voice and think about that before they point or make fun of someone who looks different. Because, let's face it, even though they KNOW things like that are wrong, a lot of times it's easier to go along with if their friends are doing it or if they completely disregard the feelings of the person being made fun of.
Honestly, I feel like this book should be required reading for every child beginning at about fourth grade. Palacio creates characters that are so easy to fall in love with, to understand, to empathize with . . . even when they're being bratty or snotty. I could recognize qualities from the characters in my own children, in myself at that age. I really feel the characters would resonate with children their same ages.
If you have pre-teen children, please pick this book up and read it along with them. You will NOT be disappointed!