Tag Archives: Wonder

Required Reading: Books I Would Put on the Curriculum

Particularly in the last three years, following Michael Gove’s decision to axe American literature from the GCSE English reading list, I’ve paid close attention to the types of literature I’ve been exposed to in school. Here’s all the books I’ve studied from year six to year twelve:

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These books are great and generate a lot of discussion. This year, I’ve really enjoyed Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I don’t mean to say these texts aren’t worthy of studying – but classrooms would hugely benefit from more diverse and current books, especially from this century. This is already happening, to a certain extent – for example, with Noughts and Crosses.

I think YA is more likely to make an impact on a student’s life. The YA section in a bookstore is where you’ll find some of the most influential and life-changing reads, as well as a plethora of diverse stories. So much of what I read in these categories spark important discussions.

In my opinion, the current syllabuses fail to do so – of course, there’s discussion of race and patriarchy, but often in the context of eras gone by. As important as historical literature is, it’s also integral to make syllabuses inclusive of books that deal with issues in the current state of the world.

It’s also so vital children see themselves represented. I’m yet to find literature by authors of any Asian origin on a syllabus, and LGBT* representation is shockingly sparse. The ratio of black and female authors to white and male authors is also far from equal on reading lists.

So, what would I put on the curriculum?

A while ago, I wrote a post based on a Twitter discussion, about what books others would like to see in school. I wanted to revisit this idea, using some of my recent reads! Without further ado, here’s a shortlist of books I’d give students, if I had the power:

if you could be mine

GCSE and A Level: If You Could Be Mine is a beautifully written book about two girls in Iran, who have feelings for one another but can’t express it publicly. It would be awesome to see an Iranian author on the syllabus, and the story is an emotional one with lots of themes to be talked about in class, from sexuality and religion to society and tradition.

george

Middle Grade Reading: George would be a fantastic book to discuss with younger pupils. Not only is it a really fun, heartwarming read – it’s also the perfect way to start a discussion about gender with children and promote tolerance of trans kids. Trans children are more likely to feel alienated and be victims of bullying in school: wouldn’t it be incredible for them to see themselves in the books they read?

 

the bunker diary

A Level: The Bunker Diary is controversial, to say the least, and it’s incredibly hard hitting. That’s why I hesitated to put this on the list. But I think it would be fascinating to analyse for students who would feel comfortable talking about its themes. In particular, the narrative is a really interesting point; it’s constantly evolving and switching as the protagonist spends longer in the bunker.

the hate u give

GCSE: Especially on the GCSE curriculum, opportunity to talk about current events is very limited. Police brutality and racism in America is a really important topic to engage students in so they’re aware and informed. The Hate U Give is perfect for this. It’s also a fantastic read that’s hard to put down.

wide awake

GCSE and A Level: Wide Awake is definitely underrated and I’m always eager to recommend David Levithan! The current state of the US is pretty depressing, but this book explores the idea of a gay Jewish president being elected, and the diverse celebration surrounding his campaign. It’s brilliant! David Levithan’s writing is absolutely beautiful and it would be so wonderful for it to be reflected on in classrooms.

 

wonder

Middle Grade Reading: Wonder has to be on this list! I’m pretty sure some primary schools have already used this book as a talking point. Wonder is written from multiple perspectives and follows Auggie as he starts mainstream school with a facial deformity. This book is so heartwarming and has already inspired so many young people to promote kindness.

What books would you put on the curriculum?

 

 

Anti-Bullying Week: #ChooseKind & GIVEAWAY!

I’m really excited about today’s blog post!

Anti-Bullying Week starts today, the seventeenth, and runs until the 21st. It’s celebrated in schools across the UK to raise awareness of bullying, and how to prevent and solve it. (Last year, I made a blog post for Sophie’s themed week.)

Penguin Random House are the publishers of the fantastic WONDER by R J Palacio, and they’ve teamed up with the Anti-Bullying alliance to bring the #ChooseKIND campaign to schools (find out more here). It’s a brilliant scheme to raise awareness of bullying and promote kinder behaviour, especially in youth – and inspired by Wonder, which is a beautifully written tale of bullying, bravery and kindness.

I read Wonder at the start of 2013, and was completely blown away by its raw emotion and beautiful narratives. It’s marketed as a Middle Grade book, but can be read and adored and treasured by anyone of any age. It’s a novel about a boy called Auggie, who’s just about to start middle school after years of being home-schooled, and his ups and downs of navigating a new life while being labelled as different because of the way he looks. It’s unforgettable, moving and inspiring.

365 Days of Wonder is a tie-in gift book that was released earlier this year. It was inspired by precepts and quotes given by Mr Brown, Auggie’s teacher in Wonder – and all of the inspirational quotes readers sent in response, to R J Palacio. There’s a quote for each day of the year – it’s such a beautiful book to treasure.

To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week, and the #ChooseKIND campaign, I’m running a giveaway! One person will win Wonder & 365 Days of Wonder. Entry by the Rafflecopter link below…

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click on the link below to go to the Rafflecopter widget!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bibliomaniac/330168953761504?sk=app_228910107186452

 T&C’s, etc.: Unfortunately I can’t cover the cost of sending the prize overseas – this is a UK only giveawayThe giveaway prize was provided for me by the publisher, and I will be posting it myself: I’ll let the winner know when it’s been posted. The giveaway will end on Monday, 24th November. To be completely fair, I’ll pick the one winner through Random.org. I’ll try to post it before December 10th, so it doesn’t get lost in all the Christmas-post madness!

 Good Luck! You can check out more about #ChooseKind by using the hashtag on Twitter or clicking here.

365 days of WONDER

I was sent a copy of 365 Days of Wonder from the publisher, Random House, last week! I wasn’t expecting it, but I’ve been really interested in it since I heard it announced. However, it’s not the kind of book I can review in terms of the plot, or the characters, etc… This is a (beautiful!) collective book of precepts, quotes and inspirational things – a page for each day of the year.

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Wonder by R J Palacio (read my review here) is about a boy called Auggie, who has a cranial facial disorder, starting middle school – and it documents his first friendships and hardships there. His English teacher, Mr Browne, is in love with Precepts – motivational quotes etc – and asks his students, including Auggie, to mail him their own precept on a postcard over a school holiday. The precepts mentioned in the book were all really powerful and inspirational!

RJ Palacio, the author, received lots of postcards from readers and fans with their own precepts written on them – and over a hundred of them were selected along with some famous icon’s quotes, and were all combined to create 365 Days of Wonder. 

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365 Days of Wonder is such a beautiful book! Every single page is different, but all of them are vibrant and gorgeous. There are typed precepts, handwritten ones, and occasional pictures. It’s such a beautiful book, whether you’re just flicking through it, reading it all in one go, or doing what the title suggests and reading a precept a day (for a year!).

IMG_0515A lot of the precepts reflect the world of Wonder so beautifully, like the one above. Though it is quite expensive as it’s a hardback, I do recommend checking out a copy upon release – if you loved Wonder, its spin-off novella The Julian Chapter, or if you’re just looking for a really pretty gift book. I’m now keeping my copy on my desk – to read a precept a day (:

[You can also check out and reblog these photos on my Tumblr book blog :)]

I received a copy of 365 Days of Wonder from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Julian chapter by R J Palacio

Published 1st May 2014  by Random House Children’s books.

20878809Publisher’s Synopsis: Over 1 million people have read Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Now readers will have a chance to hear from the book’s most controversial character—Julian.

From the very first day Auggie and Julian met in the pages of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder, it was clear they were never going to be friends, with Julian treating Auggie like he had the plague. And while Wonder told Auggie’s story through six different viewpoints, Julian’s perspective was never shared. Readers could only guess what he was thinking.

Until now. The Julian Chapter will finally reveal the bully’s side of the story. Why is Julian so unkind to Auggie? And does he have a chance for redemption?

My Review: The Julian Chapter was a story I fell in love with from the start. It’s engaging, emotional, and incredibly powerful. Spinning off from Wonder, R J Palacio’s much loved début, The Julian Chapter tells the story of the bully who hated Auggie for his looks.

As soon as I’d gotten an email about this spin-off chapter, I was too excited for words! I fell in love with wonder last year. It was so moving and powerful. I couldn’t wait to hear more from R J. I started the story straight away and once I’d begun, I couldn’t stop. I was so engrossed in the story! Julian was a character whose narrative wasn’t in Wonder, which switched between the viewpoints of lots of people in Auggie’s life. I was so glad I could finally see through Julian’s eyes.

The writing, of course, is brilliant. R J Palacio has adopted the voice of a middle-school kid really well. Julian’s voice is really distinctive and realistic. I could feel his anger and fear about the situation he was in because of Auggie. If you read Wonderyou’ll have really disliked Julian for the things he did to Auggie. I did. But in this novella, I got to understand all of the reasons behind his actions. Obviously, the things he did are still awful- but The Julian Chapter has made all of his actions make sense, and it’s built a really good back story to one of the most complex characters in the story.

The Julian Chapter tells Julian’s side of the story in Wonder, then goes on to after the events of Wonder. I loved how much Julian develops throughout the story. He changes into such a different person over the course of the novella, and honestly, the last few chapters made me start crying. I grew to forgive Julian, and liked him by the ending; The Julian Chapter shows how it wasn’t all Julian’s fault- how his actions were caused by so many things. I love that R J Palacio has made Julian such a more understandable character with an eighty page story.

Overall, The Julian Chapter was just… amazing. It’s poignant, honest, and written so well. I loved hearing Julian’s voice, and learning about his life and back story. The Julian Chapter gives a whole new side to the story. If you loved Wonder, I cannot recommend this highly enough! For an under-100-page story, it’s unbelievably emotional and engaging. I won’t be forgetting The Julian Chapter any time soon!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Julian Chapter, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.