I must admit I have been struggling with sticking to one theme per month, unless it is one that really captures my attention like last month’s books about autism. I was going to focus on mythical books for May (Mythical May), then I jumped to thinking about other styles of fantasy like books about Immortal characters (immortal May) but have too many other books I have recently read and want to write about… so it is MIXED May – a bit of everything.
I discovered Wonder at the start of the year when I was on a crazy skim read of ten possible book choices for Year 9 English. I initially was sceptical of Wonder as being suitable as a class text for 14- 15 year old students as the main character Auggie is only 10 and the language is reasonably simple. But chose it because of it had great discussion potential and it would be an easy school holiday read. Without spoiling the story, Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity and after being home schooled his parents decide that it is time for him to start mainstream school. So, through different characters reactions to his entry to school we get the themes of judging people based on appearance, courage, exclusion/bullying, acceptance and so on. These are all themes that Year 9 can discuss with insight. As there are multiple perspectives recounting versions of the same events, Wonder allows for differentiation in that students who do not read well, would not have to read the whole book on order to understand the themes, events and characters. Equally, more able students can explore the references to music (such as Natalie Merchant’s Wonder) or literature (such as Elephant Man). I also had my students discussing video clips of others who have ”won” the genetic lottery such as models and people born without limbs. It has been a great success.