A book for every child

Chester. Chester Elementary School and Kiwanis provide ‘We’re all Wonders’ to every student.

| 01 Nov 2021 | 06:20

Chester Elementary School Principal Mary Kate Boesch announced that all 392 students, from Pre-K to Grade 5, received a beautiful hardcover copy of the book “We’re All Wonders,” by R.J. Palacio.

The book emphasizes community, acceptance, kindness and empathy and supports the school’s district-wide Social and Emotional Learning initiative.

Author R.J. Palacio originally wrote the novel Wonder, which was turned into a movie in 2017 starring Julia Roberts, with Jacob Tremblay playing her son, Auggie Pullman. The book and movie inspired a nationwide movement to “choose kind” and was so popular that fans requested Palacio write a children’s version of the book, which became “We’re All Wonders.”

Last year, then-principal, now assistant superintendent Kathy O’Hara chose the book and the Chester Kiwanis Club purchased the books for the graduating fifth grade class.

This year, school administration and teachers felt the book had such a strong and important message, they wanted to gift a copy to all. Again, Kiwanis contributed to the purchase of another class set.

Through the efforts of school Social Worker Lisa Ringel, additional copies were purchased at a reduced rate.

On Oct. 20, the book was chosen for school-wide read-alouds. Some of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students went to younger grade classes and read the book to the students.

Afterwards, teachers used the lessons in the book to ask questions and spur conversations and activities around the themes of empathy, kindness and acceptance.

“We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are,” Principal Boesch wrote in a letter home to parents. “It’s a perfect way for us all to talk about empathy and kindness with children. Read this book at home with your children, ask them what they talked about at school and continue the conversation at home.”

Boesch also said the school is grateful to Kiwanis for their generosity.

“The roll out was a success,” she said, “and families are enjoying this in their homes and we couldn’t be happier.”

CAPTION: Pictured is Fifth grade student

Luis Mora, a fifth grade students at Chester Elementary School, reads to a group of first graders: Sebastian Venus, Antonia Riale, Julieta Aguilar, Damian Flores Lopez and Liam Martinez Hernandez. Provided photo.

‘Maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see’
Chester Elementary School Principal Mary Kate spoke with student Luis Mora about the message behind the book.
When asked what he might do if he saw someone being made fun of or laughed at because they are different, he said:
“I would tell other kids not to do that because we are all different. We should all treat each other the way we’d like to be treated. Everyone should be kind to each other.”
The book says “I know I can’t change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see. If they do, they’ll see that I’m a wonder.”
When Luis was asked what he thought that meant, he said:
“People will see that he isn’t different, but we’re all different, and just because we’re different doesn’t mean we’re not special.”
- Ginny Privitar