Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Moment

My 5th graders and I are completely captivated by Wonder. I had so many bloggers share their experiences while reading this story with their class a few weeks ago. Today, I had a "moment" with my students.

Let me paint the picture for you, my students were chomping away on their birthday cookie cake and I was reading aloud from the front of the room. I begin reading about Auggie's first Halloween at Beecher Prep. If you're familiar with this story, you know what part I'm referring to. I won't spoil it for everyone else. As I read about Auggie's heartache, I looked up and realized I had 21 sets of eyes locked on me. Eyes that were wide open with horror, amazement, and empathy.

I closed the book to stop reading for the day - gosh I'm mean - and looked up at my students. All eyes and voices were begging me to continue and I said, "Doesn't that just break your heart?" In unison I heard a sympathetic "yessss!" in reply.... and one, rather loud, "NO." I was a little taken back and I asked the student, "what makes you say no?" He responded simply, "It's fiction. He isn't real."

Being the reader that I am, I wanted to hop on my soapbox and say, "YES HE IS! YOU BE NICE TO AUGGIE! HE DOESN'T DESERVE THIS."

I refrained. Instead, I hopped on another soapbox, one about the power of fiction writing. I told my little naysayer, that yes he was right - it is fiction and Auggie isn't real, but what Palacio has done for us is create a character that is so lifelike and relatable that we can't help but feel emotions for them. Powerful writing holds your attention and makes the characters (real or imagined) feel as if they're sitting in your living room. I asked my students if they've ever thought about the characters while they aren't reading? I asked my students if they've ever put themselves in the characters position? Suddenly, I realized that my little naysayer has sparked a beautiful conversation in my room about the power or storytelling and reading. I shared personal experiences with my students where I, too, had worried and wondered about the fate of characters. I asked a gentleman who is in book three of the Harry Potter series if he thought of Harry and his pals outside of the book and he quickly nodded his head in agreement.

This little incident only lastly about seven minutes, but it was probably the most important and most authentic conversation we had all day. I realized that my students were reading (and listening) because they truly enjoy stories. They aren't reading for the sake of levels or because they have to, they're become life long readers and I wish nothing more for them.


  1. Sounds like an awesome moment! How lucky those 5th graders are to have you! :)

  2. I just started Wonder last night. I want to finish it over break so I can use it as the end of year read aloud in my class. You have made me all the more eager to continue reading. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book. I can't wait to share it with my class. Thanks for sharing, Stacy @ http://new-in-room-202.blogspot.com

  3. We had a pretty "real" moment today when one of my kids realized that he's "a Julian."

    We talked about it frankly and openly in the class (since he said it in front of everyone and everyone basically knows it) and he said he wants to do what he can to change that. The other kids agreed to help him with this. Pretty exciting stuff.

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason

  4. Just wait until you get to the part about Daisy. My class bawled, and I cried right along with them. And when we finished the book, my kiddos burst into applause. It was definitely a moment to remember. I can't believe this book didn't win the 2013 Newberry! Although, I do love "The One and Only Ivan," also! Enjoy the rest of Wonder!

    Wild About Fifth Grade

  5. What a wonderful moment! This is the stuff that keeps us teachers going! Thanks for sharing!

  6. That is a great moment! I absolutely adore this book!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

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  8. I have heard so many great things about this book! I will have to read it to my5th graders before this school year is over.

    Life as a Teacher

  9. My kids loved it! What a great year full of great books it has been!


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