I only pick the first book of the year for my book clubs. I choose the books by reviewing a list of questions I put on the registration forms. I ask the kids questions like, "what is your favorite movie? video game? book? and author?" After I review the questions, I group the kids by interest and age. I try to pick a book that I think will appeal to the genre of interest.
Now, I have group of 6th graders starting their fourth year with me in book club. I have to say I would have told you I could pick a book for any of these kids. They usually love fantasy and adventure books. But, this month they took me by surprise. I have to say they are growing up.
One of my most dedicated readers told the group that they just had to read Wonder by R.J. Palacio. He had read it four times and cried at the ending every time. He explained, " It is a book about a boy who is going to school for the first time in fifth grade. He had been homeschooled up to now because his face is terribly deformed. Going to school was hard for him, but it is a great story." This young man is very respected by the group, so they agreed to take on the novel. So, my fantasy kids are delving into realistic fiction with both feet.
I am proud of the group and glad to have read the book. I have been tempted by the cover for the past year, but hadn't made the time to read the book until now. My young friend was right. This book is a must read. It is a classic coming of age novel with a cast of flawed characters. August, the main character, wears his flaws openly on his face. The others hide them more effectively, but they are revealed little by little to the reader as the story unfolds. If you have a middle school student, this book is a must read!