Started: September 19, 2015
Finished: September 19, 2015
Category: Award Winner ALA Notable Children’s Book – Middle Readers
Published: February 2014
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Middle Grade
Pages: 320 pages
Themes: Family, Appearance, Friendship, Courage, Suffering, Coming of Age
Rating: 5 Stars
Age/Interest: 4th Grade and up
Again, finished in one sitting. Another great one – It lived up to the hype, and more!
The book is told from different perspectives, but the first (and main) one is from August Pullman. Auggie is getting ready to begin 5th grade and has been home-schooled up to this point because of a genetic face deformity. He is very aware that his face makes others uncomfortable. Sometimes his description of how others pretended not to look (at his deformity) was painfully sad to read.
Auggie has been home schooled up to this point because his mother has been able to do it. Now, the work is getting harder, and she knows Auggie is ready for more than she can give him. He gets accepted to a hard-to-get-into private school and is introduced to a few hand-picked students by the principal as a way to help Auggie feel more comfortable. The students picked by the principal end up being THOSE kids. Kids that are “good” in an adult/administrator’s eye, but perceived very differently by their peers!
When the book changes perspectives, we learn more about these students chosen by the principal and a few others (including Auggie’s sister who is in high school). It was interesting to dig deeper into these point of views… I would think (hope) students would find this eye-opening, thus helping them form empathetic perceptions.
You never really get to find out EXACTLY what Auggie looks like, and I think that makes a strong point because IT DOESN’T MATTER. What matters is that whatever awkwardness we may feel around others with such noticeable differences, it is nothing compared to what they actually feel. And they feel that all the time. All humans look for a level of acceptance…
This book had great humor, leaned on other well-known and fantastic literary means, and just has an overall great message: Be kind. This would be a great book to introduce the switching up of narrative voice. Additionally, the contemporary setting is simple to identify with. The whole concept of dealing-with-something-that’s-awkward-to-be-discussing, would most definitely strike a cord of empathy with students.
Overall Literary Merit: HIGH
Classroom possible uses:
Students could keep a journal with their own PRECEPTS<a concept a teacher (Mr. Brown) uses with the students throughout the story.
This could EASILY be a class read aloud. Connecting with the author and group missions to “Choose Kind” are easy ways to dig in deeper with students. Wonderful writing prompts could come out of every chapter. I won’t reinvent an of these, as many teaching professionals have great ides online. A few I would consider using include:
Mostly, I would use this book as a HOOK. The universal appeal of this title could help readers identify what KIND of reading it is that they like, and in return, help students identify themselves as READERS.