Breckenridge Texan

South ‘Spreads Wonder’ with a book for every student
September 05
10:54 2017

From left, South Elementary Librarian Abby Moore, Principal Kenna Rainey and Assistant Principal Prairie Wilson-Freeman announce to the fourth grade class that every student in the school will be getting their own copy of the book “Wonder.” (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

As the fourth graders gathered in the South Elementary cafeteria/auditorium Friday morning, they didn’t know what to expect. They knew there was going to be a surprise, but they had no idea what it was.

When the curtain was opened, the stage was filled with books. Specifically, there were hundreds of copies of the book “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, enough for every student in the school. As they figured out what was going on – that every one of them was going to get their own copy of the book to keep – excitement spread through the crowd.

One by one, the students were called up to the stage to receive their books.  Then, in groups, they posed for photos in front of a bright blue backdrop that featured the words “We’re all wonders.” As they sat back down in their seats, those with books immediately opened them and started to read, while the others waited eagerly for their copies.

The fifth and sixth graders received their books at similar events later in the day.

According to South librarian Abby Moore, the school’s staff decided earlier this year that they wanted to “spread Wonder” with the students because the book has such a powerful message. So, they came up with the idea for a school-wide book club and planned to start with “Wonder.”

The plot of the book follows 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with severe craniofacial abnormalities. It highlights the struggles he has attending public school for the first time, offering a strong anti-bullying message to readers. The overall theme of the book is “choose kind.”

“Our theme for the school year is ‘Choose Kind. Create Wonder,’ and we’ve decorated many of our bulletin boards with Wonder-inspired decor, and our shirts match the theme as well,” Moore said in an explanation of the project.

In planning the book club, the staff discovered that the Children’s Craniofacial Association (CCA – helps bring “Wonder” to schools by providing a discounted rate on the books.  South secured the hardback books for a total cost of $9 each in May. But, since they needed 350 books, the cost was more than $3,000.

So, Moore sent out letters to businesses around town asking for donations to help cover the cost of the books.  “MT7 Ranch and the Terry Family Foundation agreed to match the donations from other businesses.  All in all, we had 19 (local) businesses/community members donate funds for our ‘Spread Wonder’ project,” she stated.

All of the students signed “Wonder” themed thank you cards to be sent to the donors.

After receiving their copies of “Wonder,” each student signed thank you cards to be sent to the contributors who helped purchase the books for the school. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 12, South Elementary will start reading the book together during breakfast in the mornings. The goal is to read about one chapter per day, Moore said.

“This means we will finish up around the end of November! While we read, we will be using the plot of the book to have discussions about bullying, empathy, and other keen character development issues,” she said.

The book “Wonder” was first published in 2012, and the movie adaptation, starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Nate Pullman, is scheduled to be released in mid-November.

“Because of the hype of the upcoming movie, schools across the world are participating in school-wide book clubs this year with Wonder, and our classrooms have signed up to be ‘Certified Kind’ classrooms,” Moore added. “Students can also sign the ‘choose kind’ pledge, and there are tons to awesome resources online if you search the hashtag #choosekind. We’ll be using our own social media hashtag to document our journey with the book (#SouthSpreadsWonder).”

The following businesses/people helped make South’s “Spread Wonder” project happen:

  • Children’s Craniofacial Association
  • MT7 Ranch and the Terry Family Foundation
  • Greg Pitzer
  • David Clark
  • Heatley Surveying
  • H&H Garden Center
  • Thurmon Furniture
  • Rustic Charm
  • Turner Seed
  • Mike Thornton
  • Wilson Construction
  • Cassie Griffith
  • The Rotary Club
  • Karen Martin
  • Master Chiropractic
  • Interbank
  • Walmart
  • United Supermarkets
  • Graham Savings
  • Julie Fore
  • First National Bank

Cutline, top photo: South Elementary students started to read their copies of “Wonder” as soon as they sat back down in their seats Friday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

For more photos, click here to see a photo gallery on “South Elementary spreads wonder.”

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