Posted by Colby Sharp on June 19, 2013 in Independent Reading
June 20, 2013 at 3:51 am
We began our summer reading with three different books on CD, one for each of our children. All these voices, all these stories, in our own individual spaces: http://goo.gl/tv6CU
I started to feel like we needed an all together book. I chose R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, recommended to me by a friend who kept telling me how captivating and thought provoking she found it to be, for herself and for her children.
We started the book in the car on the way to a very complained about trip to the pediatric dentist This visit was met with even more reluctance than usual because Nichoas and Julia had both been told that we should be prepared to have a discussion about the need to begin orthodontics at this visit.
Given some very cooperative and solidly rooted baby teeth that are still with us, this discussion was put off until next time. Phew.
But we listened to Wonder in the car. And I was finding the beginning of the book very difficult to listen to. I kept expecting someone from the backseat to ask if we could stop listening. Because I have some sensitive readers. Though some of us can handle gore and violence, we still struggle with things that feel a little more real. Human struggling and unkindness are really difficult for my children to tolerate. I struggled with it for a bit myself, and then turned off the book and checked in with the kids.
I am really finding this hard to listen to.
Yeah! They all agreed.
I am finding myself really wanting to know what he looks like, and it is bothering me that I so want to know that. What that means about me. And I am having the sense that we might not ever find out. That this might be the kind of book that never tells us.
What do you think he looks like? asked Nicholas.
We talked a bit about what a cleft palate is. I think the concept of this was made more disturbing by the fact that they were being driven toward possible oral reconstruction of their own…but maybe it’s just me who saw that connection. And we all agreed that maybe the point was it did not really matter what August, the main character, looked like, but what kind of person he was, and how this process for us was kind of like the same process that the kids in August’s new school were going to need realize as well.
Then we listened some more.
This book is, as Nicholas put it, unlike most of the books I read…it is like when I read Liar and Spy. How you get inside the heads of different characters and learn about what makes them do what they do.
Psychological , I thought to myself.
I think it is one of the first children’s books I have read in a while that talks so explicitly of gives you such a window into the prespective of a struggling child, but with a very good story as the medium. This child, while you struggle to imagine what he looks like, is so very palpable in terms of how he is feeling. And how the intentional and unintentional behavior of other children affects him.
It is a well chosen book to be reading together as we launch a boy into middle school ourselves, who we know has the capacity for such big thoughts about people but who, at the same time, really wants to be liked by his friends. And as we enter our summer of togetherness, needing to give each other our own space, but also needing to figure out how to come together and navigate our family stew.
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