Auggie, a young boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome, is about to start at a traditional middle school after being homeschooled throughout his childhood. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters, who learn important lessons about friendship, family, kindness, and growing up.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In 2015, a high school senior named Tiffany Sun conducted a social science experiment and presented her results at the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C. This article reports on this social science experiment and what it revealed about society's ugly hidden biases.
Read this article after part one, “August,” to begin a conversation about the way people treat others who they see as different from themselves. Have students discuss the different ways Auggie is treated by Jack, Julian, Summer, and other classmates. Then, have students discuss the results of Tiffany Sun’s experiment in “A Teen and a Trolley Reveal Society’s Dark Side.” Have students make connections between Auggie’s experience and Sun’s observations. Ask, “How is Auggie treated differently by Jack, Julian, and Summer? How are the results of Sun’s experiment in the article similar to what Auggie observes about the way his classmates treat him?” Students may draw on themes of prejudice, acceptance, and kindness.
In “The Stolen Party,” Liliana Heker tells the story of a girl who is invited to her friend’s party, whose family also employs her mother as their housekeeper.
Read this short story after “The Halloween Party” section to have students analyze characters’ perspectives. In this section, Summer is excited to be invited to Savanna’s party because she is the most popular girl in school, but her perspective changes when she realizes how cruel the popular kids are. Have students discuss the interactions between Summer and the kids at the party. Then, have students discuss Rosaura’s interactions with the kids and Señora Ines in “The Stolen Party.” Have students analyze how the authors of both texts build tension that eventually leads to a new perspective for each main character. Ask, “How did Summer’s perspective change in this section? How is it similar to how Rosaura’s perspective changed in ‘The Stolen Party?’” Students may draw on themes of true friendship and loyalty.
This short but profound poem deals with the experience of hiding one’s identity.
Read this poem after the “Sides” section to have students think about friendship and kindness. In this section, Auggie and Jack have become friends again, but Jack is starting to lose his old friends. Have students discuss why Jack wanted to be friends with Auggie again. Then, have students discuss the theme of the poem “Masks.” Have students compare what Jack learns about friendship to the poet’s message. Ask, “How does Jack feel once he is friends with Auggie again? What does the speaker in the poem want you to understand about hiding behind a mask? What does Jack understand about friendship now that he has taken off his ‘mask?’” Students may draw on themes of friendship and identity.
In “Fish Cheeks,” which is about a Chinese American girl who feels embarrassed by her family during dinner, Tan explores how culture can be essential to a person’s identity.
Read this short story after the “Bird” section to have students build on their thinking about characters’ perspectives. In this section, Via admits that she doesn’t want Auggie to come to her school play because she has not told anyone at her new school about him. Have students discuss Via’s conversation with Justin in this chapter. Then, have students discuss why Amy is embarrassed by her family in “Fish Cheeks.” Have students analyze and compare each characters’ feelings. Ask, “Why is Via embarrassed and conflicted in this section? How are her feelings about Auggie similar to Amy’s feelings about her family in ‘Fish Cheeks?’” Students may share examples of how the characters in both texts have conflicting feelings about the ways their families seem different.
In Ralph Fletcher’s “Funeral,” a group of boys have a funeral for their friend who is moving away.
Read this short story after the “Daybreak” section to have students discuss the theme of growing up. In this section, Auggie decides not to take his stuffed animal on the class trip to the nature reserve. Have students discuss why Auggie wanted a new duffel bag and leaves his stuffed animal for his mom. Then, have students discuss Ralph’s perspective at the end of “Funeral.” Have students compare the ways the characters show they are growing up. Ask, “How has Auggie become more mature over the course of the story? How is his perspective similar to Ralph’s at the end of ‘Funeral?’” Encourage students to give specific examples to support their thinking about the theme.
In “The Bear and the Two Travelers,” a traveler abandons his friend in the face of danger.
Read this text after finishing Wonder to lead a discussion about the meaning of true friendship. Have students consider the friendships between Jack, Summer, and Auggie, and Via and Miranda, focusing on the ways these friendships changed and grew throughout the text. Then, have students discuss the theme of “The Bear and the Two Travelers.” Have students analyze the ways the characters did and did not demonstrate true friendship at different points in the text. Ask, “At which points did the characters act like the traveler who abandoned his companion in ‘The Bear and the Two Travelers?’ At which points did the characters prove they were true friends?” Encourage students to use evidence from the text to support their thinking.