There are so many beautifully written and illustrated books for children! We chose books for our website that will help create the next generation of global citizens by exploring these themes:
Caring for others
Empowerment and perseverance
I see all four of these themes in WONDER as integral to the author’s emphasis on choosing kindness as an operating principle in life. In a Q and A on her website, R.J. Palacio answers several questions about the book, two of which are featured below:
Is there a specific event that triggered the writing of this book?
I was with my two sons one day in front of an ice cream store, and we found ourselves in close proximity to a child with a severe facial difference. My younger son started to cry because he was scared, and I was nervous that his tears might hurt the child’s feelings, so I left the scene very quickly and rather abruptly. I realized afterward that I had handled the situation terribly. What I wished I had done was to turn that encounter into a teaching moment for my kids. I wished I had stopped to talk to the child, and shown my own kids there was nothing to be afraid of. It made me wonder what it must be like for that child, facing a world every day that doesn’t know how to face you back.
Was there any theme/message the author wanted to give to her readers?
I hope that kids will come away with the idea that they are noticed: their actions are noted. Maybe not immediately or directly or even in a way that seems obvious, but if they’re mean, someone suffers. If they’re kind, someone benefits. And the choice is theirs: whether to be noticed for being kind or for being mean. They get to choose who they want to be in this world. And it’s not their friends and not their parents who make these choices: it’s them. I also hope parents are gently reminded of the enormous influence they have over their children at that age, and that it’s okay to interfere in their kids ‘ lives. Their kids may act like they’re not listening, act like they’re big and know all the answers, but they’re still listening. You’ve still got them. Use the time and remind them about the things that are essential. Remind them to be kind to their old friends. Remind them to be polite, to write those thank you notes, to go out of their way to help their friends, to connect to the kids who are struggling socially or academically. I’ve heard parents say it’s hard to ask their kids to reach out or stand up against bullies because of social repercussions, but that’s all nonsense. It’s never okay not to do the right thing.
The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, an anti-bullying campaign, grew directly out of the story Wonder tells. The book has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world.
R.J. Palacio speaks about Choose Kind in this excerpt from her website:
“If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
This quote by Dr. Dyer, introduced as a precept by Mr. Browne, on the first day of school in Wonder, set the tone for the rest of the year at Beecher Prep. It also set the tone for Wonder, a book that, on the outside is about a boy with a craniofacial difference but in its heart and soul, is about kindness. The theme of kindness and tolerance are what made Wonder resonate with so many people around the world.
Since it’s publication, Wonder has been embraced by teachers and students, incorporated into curriculum plans, and selected for countless school-wide and community reads across the country. It is a perfect book to read aloud or read alone, and a vehicle for discussions about kindness, bullying, responsibility, overcoming challenges, and friendship.
R. J. Palacio lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel, Wonder, has been on the New York Times bestseller list since March 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
In the following video, author R. J. Palacio talks about the importance of kindness with a group of school kids in Brooklyn, NY.
To learn more about R.J. Paladio, Wonder and Choose Kind, visit her website! https://wonderthebook.com
This blog was crafted by a Global Grandmothers supporter, Brooke Herter James.
In addition to Wonder, please check out the new additions to the Global Grandmothers children’s book list here: