In October we were asked to speak in Cartagena, Columbia at a Regional Conference for an Association for American and International Schoolls. There we spent a lovely afternoon on a tour of the city with Pam Allyn, an international advocate of children’s rights and literacy who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. She started an organization called LitLIfe which champions literacy throughout the world It’s hard to believe that 774 million people in the world are still illiterate, two thirds of which are women and children. We wholeheartedly agree with this quote: “The greatest gift we can give a child is an environment that will nurture a love for reading and writing that will last a lifetime.” Pam Allyn
One of Pam’s great concerns for children is bullying and we agree with her premise in an article from the Huffington Post: The Best Defense Against Bullying: Arming Your Kids with Stories, which you can find here. She suggested in her workshop a terrific new book not only for kids from about 8-18 but also for parents and grandparents called Wonder by AJ Palacio. It’s a story about a young boy named August Pullman who is entering school for the first time as a fifith grader. He has a briight mind and a fun sense of humor but he has been homeschooled up to this point in his life because he was born with a syndrome which left him with a horribly deformed face.
The book is written mostly through first person accounts, starting with how life looks through the mishappen eyes of Auggie and then goes on to how things look through the eyes of his teenage sister who also has to live with the effects of the syndrome and Auggie’s loyal friends, not so loyal friends as well as his tormenters at school. It also includes descriptions of Auggie’s terrific parents, a kind Principal and a wise English teacher that show how much difference adults can make in the lives of children.
Pam thinks this book will get a multitude of children’s books awards this year. It is a delightful and heartwrenching story to arm your children and grandchildren with as they encounter bullying at school. A link to a book about bullying for younger children is also included in the article above.
I liked this book so much that we grandmothers read it for our Book Club this month. Although we discussed the fact that things don’t always turn out so well for kids who are bullied because they are “different”, our awareness was raised about what is going on in our grandchildren’s worlds. Comments were, “I’m sending copies of this to each of my children to share with my grandchildren,” and “We should all be required to wear masks so that we could get to know each other for who we are inside instead of how we look.”
This page turner is a great way to get our children and grandchildren engaged in reading thought-provoking and uplifting current literature. In the end this is a story about the importance of kindness rather than just focusing on the horrors of bullying. In fact, the bottom line is, “Be kinder than necessary”.