the importance of kindness…

5 Mar

I just finished reading “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.

wonder book cover

It tells the story of a young boy, August Pullman, who is about to enter the 5th grade and a mainstream school for the very first time. Now to most middle schoolers, the idea of starting a new school is intimidating enough. But for August, or Auggie, the idea is especially painful. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity that even he knows is hard to look at. The story unfolds as Auggie learns to manage the world of middle school. It is very interestingly told not only through the eyes of Auggie but also through the perspective of several of the other pre-teen and teenage characters that come into his life.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that Auggie’s English teacher Mr. Browne gives the students a new precept to consider each month. The first precept the students are introduced to is: “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

It’s a simple but powerful phrase. The message is carried throughout the whole book–in a very middle school way–and leaves the reader thinking about the ways we treat and talk about others.

“Wonder” is one of those books that sticks with you after you are finished reading. Many books do of course, but this book had me thinking about how important it is that we remind our children day in and day out of the importance of kindness. The book couldn’t be more timely, as bullying is a hot topic is schools and in the media. For me, it’s one of the things I worry most about as a parent…that others aren’t unkind to my children and that my children always practice kindness.

If you have or know a 4th, 5th or 6th grader encourage them to read this book. In fact most all of us could learn a lot from Auggie Pullman and the other pre-teen and teenage characters this story revolves around. Our world needs to hear its message of kindness.

But we can’t just stop and acknowledge we need more kindness.  The author certainly didn’t stop with writing the book. She is challenging readers to commit to choosing kind at every opportunity.

Check it out and take the pledge here. And just choose kind!

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