Wonder Summary and Lesson Plans

Wonder is the touching tale about a fifth grade boy, August Pullman ("Auggie"), who was born with a rare facial difference called mandibulofacial dystosis or Treacher Collins syndrome. This genetic disorder affects the growth and appearance of Auggie's cheek bones, jaw, chin, eyelids and ears. He endured countless painful surgeries throughout his childhood and as a result, Auggie was not able to attend public school until fifth grade. Though he is very smart and has been home-schooled, Auggie has no idea what it is like to be in school with other children. His only experiences with people, besides his family and a few others, have been in hospitals or when people gawked at him in public.

Student Activities for Wonder

Wonder Teaching Guide

Essential Questions

  1. Why is it important to “choose kind”?
  2. How does the way we treat people affect them throughout their lives?
  3. How do the parallel stories help the reader understand the plot events better?
  4. How does our time in school affect our lives outside of school?
  5. How do Mr. Brown’s precepts relate to the theme of the novel?
  6. Who are the main characters in Wonder and what challenges do they face?
  7. What are some of the themes present in the novel, Wonder?
  8. What are some examples of symbolism used by the author in the novel Wonder and how does the symbolism help you better understand the characters and their motivations?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio Summary

Wonder by RJ Palacio, is about a boy, August Pullman, or “Auggie”, who faces bullying and misunderstanding on a regular basis, due to a disfiguring genetic condition. The first part of the book is from Auggie’s perspective and describes his transition from homeschooling to a private school.

Except for his appearance, which people find disturbing or upsetting, Auggie thinks of himself as a normal kid. He has been homeschooled for many years, due to this medical issue and related surgeries, but his mother feels he should start middle school with other children.

Auggie is petrified of going to a “real school”, but has always wanted to experience friendships the way other kids did. He admits to having a few friends, but nothing like “normal” kids experience. After a bit of back and forth with his parents, Auggie agrees to at least meet the head of his new school.

When he goes for a tour, he is introduced to three students: Jack, Julian, and Charlotte. Though Jack and Charlotte are slightly uncomfortable, they handle themselves well and manage to be nice and helpful to Auggie. Julian starts off mean and continues with nasty, under-handed remarks, even after school is in session.

Readers are introduced to Mr. Brown, one of Auggie’s teachers. He teaches the kids about precepts: ”PRECEPTS = RULES ABOUT REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS!” They are mottos to live by, according to Mr. Brown. The first precept of the year (and a theme of the book) is, “WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”

Auggie meets a new friend, Summer, who sits with him at lunch. He also hangs out with Jack a lot. He works hard in school and experiences many happy firsts, all while feeling that people are judging him. While most of his time is happy, Auggie has one particularly painful experience on Halloween. When Auggie changes his costume at the last minute, the other students don’t realize it is him. Auggie overhears Jack, who was egged on by Julian, saying that he would kill himself if he had a face like Auggie’s. Auggie is so upset, he has to go home sick.

The second section of the book is from the point of view of Via, Auggie’s older sister. She loves her brother very much, but doesn’t remember a time when August wasn’t the center of attention. She says this is okay, but it becomes clear Via does need to have some attention given to her. She has always been Auggie’s “protector”, even when confused by the complex circumstances of her family’s life, and despite not understanding how Auggie deals with people’s stares and comments.

The remaining chapters show readers how some of the other characters perceive Auggie. They capture the different feelings and emotions children experience when interacting with people who are different. These chapters portray many perspectives on bullying and dealing with bullying.

Check out our Wonder lesson plans and activities above for students to dive deep into Auggie's world and get the most out of this beloved book. Activities include storyboard ideas for creating a Wonder summary, analyze themes, and even take the fun offline with printable worksheets!

Other Ideas for Wonder by R.J. Palacio Activities

  1. What happens next? Create a storyboard of a sequel to Wonder to show what happens to Auggie after the end of the book. You could also write additional stories from the perspective of another main character such as Julian, Summer, Via, Jack or Charlotte.

  2. Give students the opportunity to storyboard their answers to Wonder Study Guide Questions using images and text!

  3. Create a chapter summary storyboard at the end of reading each chapter as a fun and effective check in.

  4. Storyboard your favorite quote or scene from the novel and explain why it resonates with you.

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