If you and your child were among the millions of readers to fall in love with Auggie Pullman over the last year, you are in good company. R.J. Palacio’s book, Wonder, has been captivating readers since its release in 2012. The movie version hit the box office in November and kept theaters full throughout the holiday season. This best selling book paved the way for parents and teachers to discuss important issues like empathy, acceptance, and bullying in a whole new way. In celebration of this story, there was even a nationwide campaign, Choose Kind, challenging 3rd-6th graders across the country to seek out opportunities for kindness and compassion within their schools. If your child was hooked on Wonder, use the momentum to point him or her to other outstanding novels. Here are a few suggestions to check out next - books with similar themes and unlikely heroes you can’t help but root for.
Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally knows what it feels like to struggle in school, and she has become an expert at distractions and excuses even if it means causing trouble. Ally is desperately trying to fly under the radar, but that all changes when her new teacher, Mr. Daniels, sees past her low grades and lack of participation. With his help, Ally begins to see herself differently and is opened to a world of possibilities.
Reign Rain by Ann M. Martin
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonymes, but most people don’t understand her or her obsession. She is isolated from classmates and dismissed by teachers. Her single father is frustrated by her made-up rules and struggles to help her manage life. One day, he comes home with a stray dog that Rose names Rain. The two are inseparable, but when Rose’s dad mistakenly lets out her beloved dog during a storm, Rose must leave the comfort of her routine and rules to find her dog.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Eleven-year-old Melody has a brilliant mind and photographic memory. Although she is most likely the smartest student in her school, no one knows it. Instead, she has been defined by her disability, cerebral palsy; her teachers, peers, even doctors only see what she can’t do. Even as Melody begins to find a voice, not everyone is ready to listen.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Catherine is desperate for a normal life, but instead, her family revolves around David, her autistic younger brother. Catherine has spent years trying to teach her brother “rules” that will lessen his embarrassing behaviors. For example, “If the bathroom door is closed, knock,” and “A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.” But Catherine begins to rethink what it means to be normal when she meets Jason, an unlikely friend, and Kristi, the neighborhood friend she always wanted.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl is a former homeschooler who begins public school for the first time. Initially, she is a breath of fresh air in the halls of quiet Mica High, but soon her individual quirkiness becomes an embarrassment to her new friends. Questions of popularity, friendship, and conformity leave Stargirl wondering if the cost of “normal” is worth what she would have to change.
Written by Joy Becker, Connections Academics