Wonder—5+ Stars

There are great books, and then there are books so great you cannot let them go. They stay in your head. Then, they move to your heart. Forever. “Wonder” is one of those books. I can’t remember the last time I could not put down a book. When I was in Barnes & Noble, I saw an older kid and his mom buying the book, as “Wonder” was part of his school required reading. The boy didn’t look very happy, so I rushed over to tell him about the book and how much he will love reading it. Yes, I made a fuss and a scene. I had to, because the book is that good.

For teachers, reading aloud to students is thrilling. We get to project a book with voices and emotion, just like story intended. We can stop to ask questions, listen to children, cry, yell, and laugh. Reading aloud brings books to life.

If I taught elementary or middle school children, “Wonder” would be my #1 book to read aloud. Pete Springer tells it all in his post; the thrill of reading a great book to children, and why “Wonder” is the one to read.

Pete Springer

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Like most elementary teachers, certain books became annual reads in my classroom. It would seem a disservice not to share those books with a whole new crop of children. Of course, choosing age-appropriate books is critical. Literature included stories I read to my students, with my children, and books they read independently. When I read to kids, I often chose books a couple of years above their reading levels. It was one of the best ways to build vocabulary. Children are no different than adults—they like sophisticated literature with stimulating plots. I loved hearing those magical words while reading: “Don’t stop!” Kids will not say that unless they’re engaged in the story. A teacher develops a feel like a fish on a line with their students. One of the best feelings a teacher gets is when they’re begging for book recommendations. “Can I go to the…

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About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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56 Responses to Wonder—5+ Stars

  1. beetleypete says:

    I commented on Pete’s post at the time. That book has marvellous reviews, and I am sure it will continue to delight readers for decades to come.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, you did, and it is so good that adults should read it, too. I did, and it hasn’t left me. Thank you, Pete.

    • petespringerauthor says:

      As Jennie said, some books should be read by kids and adults. This is one of them, Pete. The world can always use a little more compassion.

  2. ganga1996 says:

    I have a special son and I read along wih his NT brother when he was in 5th grade. A book that touched our family.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for telling me. I’m so glad it touched your family. That book is still with me, long after I read it.

    • petespringerauthor says:

      One of my favorite parts of being a father was when my son and I read together. I don’t get to see him that often now because we live so far apart, but when I watch him open a book as an adult, those memories come flooding back.

  3. My best time of the week in my Junior School years was Friday afternoon.. Our Teacher Always read aloud to us a book at this time… And how important that was for me… For it brought not only Magic in the books he shared.. But my own love of reading book and story telling..
    Thank you for sharing Pete’s Review Jennie… Sounds an amazing book ❤

    • Jennie says:

      I love your story, Sue. I dearly wish all children had a teacher who read aloud and took them into worlds of wonder and magic. I never did, and I think most children didn’t have your wonderful experience. Perhaps my passion for reading aloud stems from not having it as a child in school. Yes, the book Pete shares is amazing. I read it as an adult and it is still stuck on me like glue.

    • petespringerauthor says:

      Of all the things I miss about teaching, and there are several, reading to children is at the top, Sue. Your Friday afternoons were a daily part of my classroom.

  4. Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

    I haven’t read this book. I’ve put a HOLD on it with our library. I agree, reading to kids aloud is so important. My Italian mother used to read books to us at dinner. At first (4 kids), we would complain for the sake of complaining, you know how kids are. She would say it was her “DUTY” to teach us. She chose interesting books… Greek Mythology was a big one, it’s what she learned in Italy as a child. She would have us write down vocabulary words. Of course, she would ALWAYS stop in the story when it got interesting. We would BEG her to continue. She would say, “So, these are the children who didn’t want me to read in the first place.”

    In school, how could I forget Charlotte’s Web read aloud. Anyhow, great that you value the importance of children hearing books, liking them, and then “wanting” to read on their own because of this.

    • Jennie says:

      Oh, I love the story of your mother. Of course she knew when to build up the excitement in the story and then stop. I wish all children had a mother who read aloud to them.

      Charlotte’s Web is the first book I read aloud at the beginning of the school year. I dearly wish one of my teachers had read that book to my class when I was a child.

      I am very lucky that the guru of reading aloud, Jim Trelease, visited my classroom. I got to talk about reading aloud when I was on the Kelly Clarkson Show. After a gazillion years of teaching, reading aloud is the most important thing I do.

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        So wonderful! I value this so much. I have a question for you. I’m writing children’s books. I several PBs, I’ve written. One specifically about my Italian grandmother. What I’m missing is finding a good critique partner or group to belong to. I’m part of the SCBWI Illinois Chapter, but have not been able to find a critique partner. It’s challenging to find a “good” partner and the good ones are already working with people, so closed to accepting a new writer. As you are so experienced, I wonder if you have ideas.

      • Jennie says:

        I’d suggest asking your library for a good group. Oh, they know the literary critics and reading groups. I’m a SCBWI member, too, but my real source of reviewing and critiquing comes from writer’s groups. I hope this helps.

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        Yes, that is very helpful. Thank you.

      • Jennie says:

        You are welcome.

    • petespringerauthor says:

      “Complaining for the sake of complaining,”—I love that line, Monica. Your mom had it figured out—always leave them begging for more.

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        Yeah, Italian mother… there was a lot of “water torture” as my Dad would call it. She did have a a good line which she used a lot, “it’s HER duty.” Which is true, parents have a duty to teach kids whether they want to or not. Glad she used a bit of humor. My younger brother FINALLY joked back, “We RELEASE you of your DUTY!” LOL – that didn’t work! This might make you smile. Recently, my mother 83, still at it, BEGGED me to watch the MHz Choice Channel. She wanted me to watch the Don Matteo series. English subtitles. I kept saying I would join, don’t worry. That wasn’t ENOUGH, she said, “I’ll pay for it.” NO, come on, I can pay for it. Anyhow, GUESS who is watching, Don Matteo. YEP, me!

      • Jennie says:

        Good for you, Monica! I hope you’re enjoying Don Matteo. And yes, I laughed at your brother’s line back to your mother.

      • Monica Ganz, Children’s Book Writer says:

        Hey Pete, I was just over at your website. It’s beautiful and wonderful that you were a teacher for so many years and you wrote a book. I need to poke around your website more. However, you don’t allow for comments. So, I’m sending a message this way. GLAD you found a critique group, I find it so hard to find one. Thanks for stopping by.

      • petespringerauthor says:

        Hmm. Now I’m scratching my head because I know people used to be able to leave comments on my About Me page. Where did all the comments go? 😏 Anyway, thanks to you, I’ve corrected it.

        Great story! I already like your mom. Yes, humor is also my default move in almost every instance. Isn’t one of the job requirements of being a parent to harass your kids? 🤣

        I wish I could offer you some helpful suggestions for finding critique partners. I kept putting it out there and letting it be known that’s what I was in the market for, and eventually, I met the right group of folks. I’m the only children’s writer per se in my group, yet their feedback is no less valuable. It would seem that, in your case, finding other picture book authors is a necessity. I’d be pushy enough to post this on your local SCBWI Facebook page. Most local SCBWI groups have opportunities to network. I’ll bet others like you are looking for someone to work with. I met one other children’s writer in our area that way, and now we offer each other one-on-one feedback as needed.

        I married a very expressive and funny Italian girl. Laughter is the key to any healthy relationship.

  5. petespringerauthor says:

    As Ryan prepares to get married in three weeks, I cannot help but recall all of the times I read to him and the effect that literature has on a child. We eventually transitioned to reading together, and then he became an independent reader—the natural evolution of things. I have so many great memories of this bonding time, and the fact that he developed a love for reading was the best reward and consequence.(Now he has a master’s degree in education and still loves to read.) The benefits of reading to children are far-reaching.

    I’ve been meaning to watch the film, which I’ve been told by several people is equally powerful.

    • petespringerauthor says:

      Thanks so much for the reblog, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Three weeks? How exciting! This is a wonderful reflection on the impact of reading aloud and literature over the years. It is staggering to contemplate the many effects over the years, isn’t it?

      • petespringerauthor says:

        I can’t say anything to him about this, but as I’ve probably shared with you already, I dream that one day I’ll repeat this cycle with a future grandchild. The ultimate would be to see my grandchild independently reading a book I wrote.

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, you have shared this dream with me, and I feel confident that Ryan will repeat the cycle. You have already planted that seed and watched it grow. When you see your grandchild reading a book…well, that’s as good as it gets. Lucky me, I get to give the child Goodnight Moon, and give the parents The Read-Aloud Handbook. My heart is full.

  6. Don Ostertag says:

    Nice reblog. Jennie.

  7. Ritu says:

    I loved Wonder, and my daughter did, too 💛

  8. Darlene says:

    I agree, such a great book.

  9. Opher says:

    So good to find a book that really connects. You can’t beat story-telling and reading aloud!

  10. seegogga says:

    I will try to get it

  11. I love that you shared your enthusiasm with the boy. I’ll check out Pete’s post.

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