So there’s a lot I’m not good at when it comes to this motherhood deal like cleaning out the car, staying on top of the kids homework, making sure that Dennis and Shirley have brushed their teeth, and keeping track of everybody’s immunization cards, but there is one thing that I do right. I read to my children before they go to bed. I don’t do it every night, but when I do, I really get into the book and so do my kids, even the ones that don’t like to read.
I have to tell you about this fantastic book that I’m reading right now to them called Wonder. I first heard about it at a writer’s conference when the author’s agent, Alyssa Henkin, spoke to us about it. Even though we were in a large conference room, it was like she took us into her little inner circle, telling us about this little boy with a severe craniofacial abnormality, a brave boy that decides it is time for him to go to school even though he is afraid the kids will be unkind to him.
Wonder, so different from many of the darker YA novels now, shows us a loving and supportive family who wants the best for their little boy. Some of the story is told through the point of view of Auggie’s friends, Jack and Summer, who both suffer social consequences for hanging out with him, and their courage is inspiring.
While the boy, August, goes through his share of challenges, your heart just swells with joy for him by the end of the book. So many good people sacrifice for this boy, and you can’t help but wonder if there is more kindness in the world than you thought there was. The agent told us that the book, not even through it’s first year, has sold over 500,000 copies.
I was excited to borrow the book from the library only to find that it was on hold and there were many people in front of me that were waiting to check it out. When I finally got the book, several months later, I devoured it and then decided to read it to my kids.
I wasn’t sure they’d get into it. For them, a good book is one that has “a lot of fighting” in it and usually includes wizards, gods, cyborgs, werewolves, or dragons. I remember walking out of the movie theater, still shaking after a Harry Potter movie, the one where the creepy dead people are grabbing Harry’s legs from a black lake. My son, James, just shrugged his shoulders and complained, “There wasn’t enough action in it.”
So I was surprised at how taken in my boys are with Wonder, how they cheer for August, how they hope the students at his new school will be nice to him, how they want to beat up the kids that are being mean to him. Unfortunately, my boys might not quite be getting the message of the book, (be kind), but they’re getting there, and they always moan when I tell them it’s time to turn out the light.
Even my 9th grader, Reed, stole the book from me, (Auggie is only in 5th grade) and he’s reading it on his own. Reed’s making the adjustment to high school, as is Auggie’s older sister, and there’s nothing like a book that understands what you are going through, that encourages you to keep going even when things are awkward and uncomfortable and even painful. A book can be one of your best friends in the world. I’ll be having a little book discussion about this in a few weeks so I encourage you to get the book and start reading!
What have been some of your favorite children’s books?