Bullying, although never justified, can be a cry for help.
In the 2014 Fox Cities Reads' book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, the main character, Auggie, meets Julian the first time Auggie walks through the doors of his new school, Beecher Prep. Julian is one of the incoming fifth-graders who is assigned to be a buddy to Auggie, show him around and make him feel comfortable.
The day they meet, Julian starts to treat Auggie meanly. Auggie learns this is nothing new - Julian has a track record for being unkind to his peers.
Julian's family is well-off financially and he has allowed that to start defining who he is and befriends. But later on in the book, Auggie seems to suspect that Julian may envy the security and support Auggie receives at home.
A Fox Cities Reads youth writing contest is asking fifth- through eighth-grade readers of Wonder - those who are in their middle school years, like Auggie and Julian - to tell Julian's side of the story.
Different characters, including Auggie, his friends, his older sister and her boyfriend, share their takes on life in chapters of Wonder. However, we don't hear from Julian in a chapter of his own. The contest calls for students to pick an event or chapter in Wonder and write a piece from Julian's perspective.
Teachers, this is a great opportunity for a creative writing classroom exercise based on a hot topic and an awesome read!
Participants must submit their pieces via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 12.
There is no fee to enter the contest.
Trained volunteer judges will score the entries using a points-based system that Fox Cities Reads plans to make available for online viewing.
There will be one winner per grade level, and from those, one first-place contest winner. All winners will receive an invite to attend a luncheon with author Palacio during her visit to the Fox Cities this April. The first-place winner will read his or her creative writing piece at one of the author's community presentations.
For full contest details, visit foxcitiesreads.org/content/writing-contest.
- By guest blogger Kara Patterson, Library Assistant, Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library
Wonder inspires compassion and urges us to "choose kind" - to consider how one act of kindness can affect another person and our community as a whole. This week, February 10 -16, is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation urges us to practice kindness and pass it on to others. What a wonderful fit for this year's Reads program! Has reading Wonder inspired you to pay it forward? Do you practice kindness daily? What are your favorite ways to show compassion and unexpected kindness to those around you?
Visit the Foundation's website for Kindness Ideas, and find a creative way to celebrate this week. Pay someone else's library fines off. Offer to return a neighbors books to library on your way to work. Volunteer to help out at your local library or school. Get involved in your community. Read Wonder and discuss it with your family.
Here's the author's response:
"About five years ago I took my son's for ice cream, and while my older son went inside to buy us our milk shakes, my younger son and I waited on the bench outside. My younger son was only about 3 years old at the time, and he was in his stroller facing me while I sat on the bench. At a certain point I realized that sitting right next to me was a little girl with a severe craniofacial difference, her friend (or sister), and her mother. When my younger son looked up and saw her, he reacted exactly the way you might think a three-year old would react when seeing something that scared him: he started to cry—pretty loudly, too. I hurriedly tried to push him away in the stroller, not for his sake but to avoid hurting the girl's feelings, and in my haste I caused my older son to spill the shakes, and, well, it was quite a scene—the opposite of what I had hoped for. But as I pushed my younger son’s stroller away I heard the little girls’ mom say, in as sweet and calm a voice as you can imagine: 'Okay, guys, I think it’s time to go.' And that just got to me.
For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how that scene had played out. It occurred to me that they probably went through something like that dozens of times a day. Hundreds of times. What would that be like? What could I be teaching my children so they could understand how to respond better next time? Is 'don’t stare' even the right thing to teach, or is there something deeper? All this stuff was flying through my head, and I realized that I was disappointed in myself because I had missed a good teaching moment for my kids. What I should have done, instead of trying to get my kids away and avoid the situation, was engage the girl and her mother in conversation. If my son cried, so be it: kids cry. But I should have set a better example for him, and shown him there was nothing to fear. Instead I panicked. I simply didn't have the wherewithall to know what to do in that situation.
Coincidentally, the song Wonder by Natalie Merchant came on the radio that night, as I was thinking about the ice cream incident, and something about the words to the song just got to me. I started writing Wonder that very night. "
Read more at http://rjpalacio.com/faqs.html.
Have you ever had a similar experience in your life? How did you respond? What would you do differently now? Add your stories in the comments.
Students from Little Chute Middle School created this video to help launch the 2014 Fox Cities Reads. Thanks LCMS! Enjoy and pick up a copy of WONDER today!
We would like to thank Richard Louv, our sponsors, and everyone who participated in Fox Cities Reads this year by reading the books, discussing them, and coming to Louv's presentations this week.
Continue learning and growing by doing further reading on the topics presented by our author! This list will get you started. We hope you were inspired by this year's selection!
Today is Earth Day! And we're celebrating with 2013 Fox Cities Reads author, Richard Louv, as he begins his presentations to readers of the Fox Cities today. A total of 6 talks will be given, free to attendees, and set in the following venues:
- Monday, April 22, 12:00PM - UW-Fox Valley
- Monday, April 22, 6:30PM - Appleton Public Library
- Tuesday, April 23, 1:00PM - Kimberly Public Library
- Tuesday, April 23, 6:30PM - 1000 Islands Environmental Center
- Wednesday, April 24, 1:00PM - Neenah Public Library
- Wednesday, April 24, 6:30PM - Menasha Public Library
Join us for fascinating discussions and a chance to meet this nationally recognized author right here in the Fox Cities.