Just a reminder that the giveaway I’m hosting is still going!
Note: This post was used as a homework assignment and may contain spoilers.
Bullying is a topic near and dear to my heart. I know that this is an issue that children struggle with every day. I think this book is great for kids in every situation of life whether they’re the bully, the bullied, or a bystander. There are a lot of lessons that the author tries to teach in this book. By having Auggie be so disfigured, I think bullied kids will be able to think, “Well, if even Auggie can find a friend or two, I certainly can too.” His case is definitely the extreme and I think kids will be able to find comfort in the fact that their situation isn’t as bad as Auggie’s, but everything still turns out alright in his story. While I don’t know that this book is 100% realistic, I think bullied kids will be able to read this book and feel braver about their situation.
As I mentioned earlier, I also think this book would be good for the “bystander” kids to read as well. The way that this book switches between perspectives is great because it shows how some of the people in Auggie’s life feel about him. Perspectives range from very close (Via) to sort of close (Jack, Summer) to peripheral (Justin, Miranda). The Kirkus Review says about the multiple perspectives, “Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community.” I think this shows how everyone can have an impact no matter how close a child perceives their relationship to be with someone who’s bullied. They can step in and make a difference no matter how well they know the kid.
Lastly, I think this book would be important for bullies to read so they can see the other side of things. Not only that, but it shows that sometimes we don’t even have to try to be mean—sometimes our initial reactions to someone are enough if we’re not consciously being kind. Like Jack’s babysitter Veronica tells him, “‘Jack, sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone. You understand?’” (pg 137). I think this book can help kids to be more conscious of their actions around other people.
In 2013, NPR did an interview with the author, R.J. Palacio, and it’s really interesting to hear what sparked this book. It’s actually based on a real experience that Palacio had. For those who enjoy reading books written from multiple perspectives, I would recommend the Gone series by Michael Grant. The books in this series are told from both the “heroes” perspectives as well as the “villains”. Another book about bullying that would be good for an older crowd is Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher as it also deals with suicide.