It all started with a book.
In fourth grade, our teachers read to us from “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. “Wonder” is the inspiring story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a fifth-grader with a facial deformity.
“Wonder” describes Auggie’s first year going to a school instead of being home-schooled by his mom. While most of us have had a difficult time interacting with our peers, his struggles were amplified because he looked so different from his classmates.
In the story, Julian, a popular kid, disliked Auggie from the start and took it upon himself to make Auggie feel unwelcome. As the school year went by, Auggie met friends, was betrayed and, in the end, inspired many people. He found kindness in his friend Summer Dawson from the start. At the end of the year, Auggie triumphed when he earned the school’s award for sparking empathy in fellow students.
Another insightful part of “Wonder” was how R.J. Palacio broke it up into different points of view. Readers not only learn about what Auggie is going through, they understand the motives of other characters. For example, August’s sister Via had a difficult time finding friends during her first year at high school.
This book was a great way to teach us life lessons. “Wonder” has won countless awards, and it’s no secret why. It is a great read for both kids and their parents.
Earlier this year, the eighth-graders in the National Junior Honor Society at St. Agnes Cathedral School sold bracelets that read, “Kindness . . . pass it on,” in support of the movie. The bracelets sold for $1 each, and students in every grade bought them to wear at school and later to the movie.
The proceeds will be used by the National Junior Honor Society students to make meals that they will donate. Wearing the bracelets reminded us that it is important to show compassion to others, no matter who they are or what they look like.
In November 2017, when the movie came out, everyone in grades four through eight gathered at the movie theater to watch “Wonder.” As one eighth-grade student said, “It shows anyone can fit in. We’re all unique in our own ways.” She also added, “Great soundtrack!” and “Good actors.” I agree. I think the movie really brought Auggie Pullman’s experience to life.
“Wonder” supplies us with a simple yet constantly forgotten message. It teaches us to just be kind. I hope all who watched or read “Wonder” take that to heart and try to brighten up the world with small acts of kindness. To quote the famous Dalai Lama, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Frances Barricelli and Joan McLean’s sixth-grade class, St. Agnes Cathedral School, Rockville Centre