by R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
Discussion questions from SOMN
- Brown’s first precept was, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” Was there a difference between the way Summer was kind and the way Jack was kind to Auggie? Explain.
- Is exclusion a form of bullying—even if it does not involve physical harm to the person targeted?
- Much of Wonder deals with the rejection of people who look or seem different from ourselves. Spend some time discussing exclusion and inclusion in our society, particularly within school environments. Who gets included routinely? Who is excluded? How do you feel when you are included? How do you feel when you are excluded?
- At the end of the book, Mr. Tushman encourages the students from Auggie’s class to practice more kindness than they need to. Is this a good precept by which to live one’s life? Is it realistic? Why or why not?
Classroom activities from SOMN
- Interview Auggie. In groups of 2 or 3, brainstorm questions to ask Auggie about his facial difference using words that are both kind and respectful. After they come up with a few questions, bring the class together to share and discuss their questions and how they think Auggie would answer them.
- Invite a guest speaker to your classroom to talk with students about their disability, and what students in your class can do to welcome those with differences and ensure that they feel like they belong.
- Research bullying and present on ideas to prevent bullying in your school and community. As a class or in small writing groups, do some research on the subject of bullying. Is it increasing? What forms does it take? How does social media impact bullying? What is being done to prevent bullying? What do your classmates and teachers think about the school’s climate around bullying, and what do they think would help decrease bullying? Using research and documented evidence, present your ideas to the class on bullying prevention ideas.