Wonder is the story of Auggie, a 10-year-old boy who has Treacher Collins Syndrome, a condition that causes numerous physical deformities and impairments. The story spans his 5th grade year, the first year he’s attended a traditional school, as opposed to being homeschooled.
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.
8th Grade Informational Text 1210L
About Treacher Collins Syndrome
Passage Summary: This informational text gives information about the genetic condition, Treacher Collins Syndrome, that effects the main character of Wonder by R. J. Palacio.
When and How to Pair: This article should be introduced after the chapter “Jack Will, Julian, and Charlotte,” when Auggie is beginning his first day at school, in order to help students gain background knowledge on the syndrome that has negatively impacted Auggie. What physical and social problems does Auggie face as a consequence of having Treacher Collins Syndrome?
6th Grade News 940L
A Teen and A Trolley Reveal Society's Dark Side
Passage Summary: 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.
When and How to Pair: Read this article after the chapter “Seeing August,” when Via returns from Montauk and momentarily sees Auggie in a different light — as ghoulish and disabled. Ask students to consider how society sees disabled people. Is Via’s momentary perspective normal or abnormal based on the research presented in the article? What does the research presented in the article reveal about Auggie’s situation?
10th Grade News 1110L
Proposed Treatment to Fix Genetic Diseases Raises Ethical Issues
Passage Summary: In this article from National Public Radio, a new genetic treatment that removes unwanted DNA from an embryo raises controversy.
When and How to Pair: Read this article after “The Punnett Square,” when Via explains the details of Auggie's syndrome and how the genetic implications make her not want to have kids. Have students compare Via to Lori Martin. Ask, “Do you think Via would change her mind about having children if genetic treatment, such as that described in the article, were available to her?”
7th Grade Psychology 1310L
Passage Summary: “Herd Behavior” describes how individuals change when they are part of a crowd.
When and How to Pair: Pair this article with the “Summer” section after she explains how many kids in the school are afraid to interact with Auggie, for fear of becoming unpopular, like him. Ask students to consider how the kids in school are acting like a herd, as described in the article. How does the herd behavior theory help explain why students chose not to sit with Auggie?
7th Grade Short Story 650L
The Stolen Party
Passage Summary: 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.
When and How to Pair: Pair this short story with the section titled “The Halloween Party.” In this section, Summer is initially excited to be invited to Savanna’s birthday party because Savanna is the most popular girl in school. However, Summer’s perspective on Savanna and the other popular kids at the party changes once she realizes how cruel they are. Have students analyze how the authors of both texts build tension that eventually results in a new perspective for each main character. Ask, “When did Savanna start to realize something new about the party? When did Rosaura realize something new about the party she attended?”
7th Grade Opinion 1170L
Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good
Passage Summary: In her op-ed, "Putting Good Deeds in Headlines May Not Be So Good," Tovia Smith argues that when the media celebrates do-gooders, it creates the idea that the norm is that most people wouldn't do the right thing. This article is a great exercise in argument and supporting argument.
When and How to Pair: Pair this informational article with the section titled “The Bus Stop.” In this section, Justin, Via’s boyfriend, confronts Julian and two of his friends for bullying Jack. Have students read the article and ask, “Did Justin do a “heroic” thing or merely the “right” thing by confronting Julian?” Have students discuss whether Justin was obligated to confront Julian.
6th Grade Short Story 910L
Passage Summary: 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.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this short story after Auggie discovers that Via doesn’t want him to attend her school play. In this section, it is revealed that Via is ashamed of having a brother like Auggie. Have students compare the reasons why Via is ashamed to the reasons why Tan is ashamed in “Fish Cheeks.” What are the differences and similarities between the reasons why the two are ashamed?
5th Grade Short Story 560L
Passage Summary: In Ralph Fletcher’s “Funeral,” a group of boys have a funeral for their friend who is moving away.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this article after the “Daybreak” section in the Auggie chapter. In this section and previous sections, Auggie starts showing new signs of maturity — he starts shedding some of his Star Wars paraphernalia from his life and he also decides not to take his stuffed animal on the sleep away trip. Have students analyze both texts on the theme of growing up. Ask, “What is a theme both texts share about growing up?”