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Wondering About Wonder?

Student+watches+Wonder+trailer+on+her+phone.
Student watches Wonder trailer on her phone.

Student watches Wonder trailer on her phone.

Isabella Martin

Isabella Martin

Student watches Wonder trailer on her phone.

Isabella Martin, Staff Writer

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Everyone can remember that one book that was a reading requirement in elementary school. Whether it was about animals, princesses, or fantasy characters, the plots of these stories were often utterly unrelatable and never seemed to teach much of a lesson. While this used to be the case, the book that is now a required read for elementary students is Wonder, by RJ Palacio, which was recently made into a movie.

Wonder tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of 5th grader August Pullman. “Auggie” as he is frequently known, is not a normal kid that would be seen on the street. This is because he was born with a craniofacial abnormality. This causes him to undergo many surgeries to help with his breathing, appearance, etc. By the time he turns ten, his parents decide it is time for him to go to private school, as he has been home-schooled his whole life. When Auggie’s first week of school rolls around, he struggles with quite a bit of discrimination and bullying. Wonder is not so much a nonfiction book, but rather a lesson to students that judging, or perhaps taunting someone based on appearance is unacceptable.

This story is also becoming meaningful for adults as well. It is teaching the valuable message of seeing people for who they are on the inside, not just on the outside. When people look at Auggie, they often react in malice or dismay. They don’t see right through to his heart at first.

“I think it is touching a lot of people’s lives, and it is teaching the importance of relationships and acceptance,” said Carrie Vermeulen, a Rochester Adams teacher.

While wonder teaches a good lesson for teachers, it also communicates a valuable one for students. Today’s youth is learning the important message of being thankful for not only who you are, but the luxuries you have that others may not.

Nathaniel Newman (right) pictured with his family at the premier of the movie Wonder.

“I love the movie wonder, because it showed me the importance of being grateful and having appreciation for what you have,” said freshman Meghan Fleury.

Although this story is nonfiction, many kids with craniofacial issues can relate to Wonder, as if it is their own story. Nathaniel Newman, known as the ‘real life’ wonder boy, has Treacher Collins Syndrome like Auggie. It is a condition where some bones and tissues in the face are not properly developed, sometimes causing breathing, hearing and seeing problems.

Wonder has taught many children that craniofacial differences are okay, and kids with them are just like everyone else,” said junior Emily Goodman.

Newman relates to this book as if it is his own story, suffering from cruel taunts and name calling at school as well. Wonder has been important to the Newman family, not only because it is so relatable, but because they recommend Nathaniel’s teachers read it before having him in class because it depicts him so well.

This story is not just a required reading book, but one in which that has meaning, and provokes thoughts that would not have risen had they not be reading. Wonder not only provides an educational experience, but a different take on a boy navigating middle school.

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