Each month, the Chancellor selects a children’s book that she feels is inspirational and informative for the students, parents, and staff members who make up the City’s public schools. For past book selections, review the “Book of the Month” category right here on The Morning Bell.

We're All Wonders coverWe’re All Wonders
Written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017

In We’re All Wonders, 10-year-old Auggie feels like an ordinary kid. He has a dog, rides a bike, eats ice cream, and plays ball, just like other kids. Auggie, however, does not look ordinary: he has only one eye, and no nose or mouth. His mom tells him he is “unique” and “a wonder,” but others laugh at him and say cruel things behind his back. If only people could “change the way they see,” Auggie muses. Then, they would realize that everyone is different, and everyone is a wonder.

In few words, We’re All Wonders communicates the powerful message that people are both different and the same. Adapted from Palacio’s middle-grade novel, Wonder, this picture book urges us to look past our differences and learn how to value each other’s unique qualities.

As our school communities become increasingly diverse, it is critical that children and adults learn how to get along with each other—no matter our race, country of origin, family income, gender identity, or mental or physical ability. We must make it clear that there is no place for bullying or intolerance in our schools. Parents and educators alike must teach children the importance of empathy and treating others with respect. After all, in our hearts we all want the same thing: the opportunity for a fulfilling and successful life.

Teachers could use this book to jump-start classroom discussions that are centered on finding common ground with people who might seem different at first glance. Parents, in turn, could use the book to start conversations with their children about the power of words and the effect that they can have on other people.

Ultimately, everyone has a desire to belong, and we all have something to offer. When we work together and help cultivate the positive traits we see in others, we not only build bridges, but we feel better about ourselves. Let us all take this book’s message to heart—“look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”

Posted by Carmen Fariña

Former Chancellor of NYC Schools, lifelong educator, native Brooklynite, and proud abuela.