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Wonder Hits the Big Screen (and Classrooms!) Across the Country

The Wonder movie hits theaters this weekend! Teachers, however, were in on the secret long before Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson signed on for the big-screen adaptation.
Wonder is the most requested title on DonorsChoose.org of all time. RJ Palacio’s bestselling book tells the story of a fifth-grade boy with a rare medical condition, navigating school for the first time. Teachers bring the story into their classrooms for all sorts of reasons. Relatable characters, emphasis on empathy, and vocabulary-expanding prose are just a few. But one thread runs through all of the classroom projects requesting Wonder on our site: Kids can’t get seem to get enough of it.
“Our fourth graders have been reading the book and they just love it,” says Mrs. Rizkalla of Grand Rapids, Michigan. And she’s not alone.
Thousands of teachers — from public elementary, middle, and high schools — have funded projects for Wonder and related materials through DonorsChoose.org. Here are just a few of those awesome Wonder projects to give you a taste of the creative ways teachers are using the story in their classrooms. (Are you a teacher? You can submit your own project here.)
The class set
“If I had to pick one thing to teach them all year, this would be it,” says Mrs. Siler, a middle school teacher in Illinois. Her project ensured that each student had their own copy so her students could read and discuss the book together. Turns out, the kids were as enthralled as she was. She writes: “It was one of their favorite books of the year.”
Ms. Massa in Indiana also requested a class set to help her students cope positively with the everyday challenges of being a 5th grader. She writes: “Do you remember feeling left out? Do you remember wanting to fit in? Fifth graders are on the verge of entering middle school, and they often have many social challenges. They want to fit in socially, but they are not always inclusive of others. The book Wonder is an excellent way to teach acceptance.”
More readers than she bargained for
Ms. Doerr in Arizona created a project for Wonder books and blank journals so her students could respond to the book in writing after each chapter. However, once she and her students started reading the book, she had some surprise participants.
“Parents even asked to read the book at home due to the recommendation of their child,” she says. To the donors who her funded her project, she also has a message: “Thank you for bringing this book into my students’ lives. They loved it.” What more can you ask for?
At the movies
After she and her students read the book together, Ms. Benson in Long Island City created a project to bring her whole class to the Wonder movie.
“Fifth grade is a pivotal age in life,” she writes. “It’s the last year our students will spend in our school. My hope is that by reading and discussing Wonder, and viewing the film, we can help our students to continue to grow into strong, tolerant individuals who will work to build themselves and others up… The goal of this project is to continue to promote love, acceptance and tolerance within our school, our community, and our world.”
Have you read Wonder? Planning on seeing the movie? Let us know in comments!

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