The summer of 2014, I read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and fell in love. I immediately knew I wanted this to be my first read aloud of the year. Not only are the messages and themes in this book fabulous for children today, but the book literally allows you to teach all the Common Core Literature Standards with this book! Seriously….Read on to find out how.
This post contains an Amazon affiliate link if you decide you want to purchase the book mentioned in this post.
Inferences can be made throughout this book. This is a great book for really digging in deep to a character’s feelings, thoughts, and motivations.
This book is full of themes. The best part about this book, in my opinion, is that the life lessons truly resonate with the students. They don’t have to think about the future or situations not typical to their lives. They are able to connect with the themes in this book, which makes it that much more
powerful. Here are some example themes:
- Believe in yourself.
- You are stronger than you think.
- Family is important.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
- How does Via’s reaction to people looking at August differ from August’s reaction?
- Compare and contrast Julian’s family with August’s family.
- Compare and contrast Jack Will and August’s friendship before and after Halloween.
One of the unique things about this book is the song lyrics, quotes, and poems that come before a character point of view change. This allows the reader to compare how the overall book is written (prose) versus some of the other excerpts included. Also, Via performs in a play in one of the major scenes of this book. This can seamlessly allow you to transition to the differences between prose and drama.
The graphic on the cover of the book can invite a lively discussion to practice this standard. The students could also be invited to redesign a cover graphic and explain how their graphic matches and adds to the meaning of the text. There are also graphics on the page introducing a character point of view change. August’s graphic changes from section to section. The students could analyze these graphics and their changes.
Another thing I love about this book is that there is a “sequel” short story titled “Julian’s Chapter.” Julian is the resident “bad guy” and his point of view is never pursued in Wonder. However this short story provides valuable insight into his motivations, thoughts, and feelings. With similar themes and topics, this works perfectly for a lesson comparing and contrasting two books in the same genre.
Written a level U, this is a good example of a 5th grade beginning of the year complex text.
Have I convinced you to read the book yet? 😀 Click below to check it out!
What are your go to books for teaching literature standards? Let me know in the comments!
Want more recommended read alouds for 4th and 5th grade? Click on the links below to check out my other read aloud posts.
Read Alouds for Teaching Story Elements
Read Alouds for Teaching Figurative Language
Read Alouds for Teaching Inferring
Read Alouds for Teaching Theme
Read Alouds for Teaching Point of View
Read Alouds for Teaching Main Idea
Read Alouds for Teaching Text Structure
Read Alouds in Upper Elementary
Planning Read Alouds in Upper Elementary
The Meek Moose says
I'm convinced! I'm teaching fifth next year for the first time in over ten years. Adding this to the bookshelf. Thanks.
The Meek Moose
Jennifer Findley says
Yay! You will love it, Heather!
Great post Jennifer!
I use this as a read aloud in my class, and I agree, it is a perfect reference tool to use with the standards. My class had a great discussion about the multiple points of view. I haven't read Julian yet, but I'm adding it to my list.
Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans
Jennifer Findley says
I loved the Julian chapter. It really added to the story!
Mrs. Decker says
I used this as a read aloud in my fourth grade classroom, and my students LOVED it! I also read the short Wonder books that are only available as e-books (they are The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story (this is Julian's side of the story eye opening), Pluto: A Wonder Story (Auggie's former friend Christopher tells this story, and it tells us about Auggie's life before he goes to school) , and Shingaling: A Wonder Story).
Jennifer Findley says
I haven't read the last two e-books that you mentioned. I will definitely have to check those out. Thanks so much!
Stephanie Schultz says
I've had Wonder sitting on my desk for awhile now! I'm definitely going to read it before school starts so I'm ready to read it with them! Also, FYI, I was just on Amazon and all three additional Wonder books will be available as one hardcover in August -I already preordered my book!
Alison Rose says
I start out the year every year with this book and then immediately after I read the book Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee. It is a great book to do comparisons of characters, because the main character Benji also struggles with some medical issues. Elvis and the Underdogs is very light-hearted and comical though, so it is very different from Wonder. I also like to read Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper to do yet another comparison of struggles the main character goes through in that book. Thank you so much for this post. It was a great read!
Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'
Amy Swarup says
There are also 2 more chapters- Pluto and Shingaling. I'm going to check those out as well. LOVE this book. I used it last year and will be taking it further this year.
And also The Julian Chapter which gives us Julian's (the antagonist) point of view.
Doris Singleton says
Is this book too difficult for a second grade classroom?
In my opinion, it would be quite a bit above their heads. Is great for 4th and up. The main character is in fifth grade in NYC although if felt more like 6th or 7th to me.
Much too difficult on an emotional level. I’ve read it the last three years to my fifth grade class. I stop & talk along the way a lot. It really isn’t geared for kids that young. I think 5th is just right.
Jennifer Findley says
I agree with the others. I would recommend this book for grades 4-8, and fourth grade only depending on the group.
I will be teaching 8th and 9th grade Intensive Reading and am looking for good read aloud materials. Is this book too young for my levels?
After you read aloud Wonder, another great book geared for 5th-9th is Because of Mr. Terupt. There are three books in the series. I’m dropping down to 2nd grade next year and will miss reading aloud the Mr. Terupt books by Rob Buyea.
Jennifer Findley says
I have heard great things about Mr. Terupt. I really need to move it up on my “To Be Read List.” Thanks for the recommendation!
Love this book! Not only the message, but it had a student my first year teaching with the same condition. He taught me soo much! Always be a little kinder than necessary was on my quote board for a while. I'm going to read it aloud this year!
Sheldon Jordan says
I started reading this with my fourth graders this year but the end of the year got there before we finished. My kids were on the edge of their seats waiting for the next chapter and to see what would happen. I love your blog post on hitting all of these standards with the students!
Joanne Miller says
Great post Jennifer! I plan to use Wonder as my first read aloud with my class-I'm looping to 5th grade and saved it for this year! I know they will love it as much as I do! Wonder can change people's lives! Such an inspirational story…a must read!
Head Over Heels For Teaching
Leslie Kastner says
I really want to add this as a read aloud this year. However, our district has selected novels for each quarter. Would it be too much if it was just read and discussed even though we are doing our novel? Wouldn't be too confusing would it?
I love, love, LOVE this book. I read it last year and my fifth graders just adored it! I agree that every standard can be easily taught and am planning to use if for just that this year. Thanks for posting this. You did all the work for me 🙂
My question to you is how are you doing this with your class? Do you have a class set of the book? I love this book and years class really needs the message but I only have 5 copies for 24 students. How would you handle this in your class? Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated.
Jennifer Findley says
Hi Teresa! I actually only have one copy of this book. I read it aloud during my read aloud time. If I were you, I would give four of the copies to the students who will have the most difficulty paying attention while you read aloud. Hope this helps!
I have the eBook and I display it on the board for my students. This way the students can track the text on the board while I read aloud.
Great book, and great ideas for using it as a tool to drive instruction.
Jennifer Findley says
That is a great idea, Chris! Thank you for sharing!
Do you think that 4th grade would be okay to listen to this as a read aloud? I read above that it would depend on the class. What did that mean?
I have just started reading the book to my 4th graders. I haven’t ran into any problems. I think it is perfect for 4th graders and up. The first few sections had my kiddos cracking up and excited about reading on. The school had “extra money” and I was able to purchase a class set which I think works best for any read aloud stories
Beth wesT says
I read it in my fourth grade class. There is a scene about suicide and a few inappropriate words so I just rephrased when I was reading.
Vicki Colston says
I love this book, too. I follow you on TPT. Do you happen to have a book unit where you cover the standards through the book?
Thanks so much!
Beth wesT says
Such a wonderful book! What a great read to teach about bullying and friendships. I had a boy in my class this past year with the same illness as Auggie and luckily he is very accepted by all students in our school.
I’m teaching 3rd grade for the first time this year. Do you have any recommendations for a read aloud novel that would also be good for teaching the common core for 4rd graders?
I mean 3rd graders, not 4th! Sorry!
Kari Findley says
I’m SOOOO stoked! I’m teaching fourth this year, and am totally using “Wonder” as a read-aloud and mentor text for sure! I was even able to get copies for each of my students thanks to some generous donations by parents who think the book will be a powerful classroom tool. I’m so excited! Thanks so much for not only this “wonder”ful post, but also for your entire amazing blog!
Hi Jennifer! I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for all of the valuable resources I have stumbled across in your blog! I am so thankful to have found you as a wonderful inspiration to a successful school year! Thank you for providing myself, other educators, and your students with such positivity! I absolutely love using this book with 5th graders in the beginning of the school year!
Sierra R says
I teach fifth grade and am going to use Wonder for the first time next year! I am so excited because this is by far one of my favorite books! I noticed you mentioned that you teach most of the literature standards though this book…do you know of any good resources to utilize?
TAMMY WOOD says
I loved what you said, Infact, I loved it so much I spent almost an hour looking for a unit I though you made. You have some wonderful ideas. Why don’t you put it in an unit?
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My daughter is in fourth grade and she got Wonder in 3rd grade and has read it at least 3 times and has watched the movie at least 2 times. I am a teacher yet teach secondary science, so seeing how I can have her dig deeper in the book and follow CC standards is awesome! Thank you so much!