Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winner Winner Family Dinner: Using The Book Wonder for Dinner Discussion

A few months ago, I blogged about the importance of eating dinner as a family.  While we gather to actually eat, the important part is the actual talking and interacting.  I've posted some great ideas on how to get talking at the table.  My question jar was a big hit at my house.  After a while, the questions just got old so I've decided to add a new routine to our dinner conversation: reading and responding.  ( Once a teacher always a teacher.)

My book club recently read the book, Wonder.  I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a long time.  I've also never felt so inspired. The book describes the life of August Pullman, a 5th grade boy with a facial difference and his attempt to attend public school for the first time.   He has been homeschooled all his life both out of medical necessary and to protect him from the possible cruelty of other children.  One of the most interesting aspects of this book is its narration.  While some chapters are narrated by August, others are narrated by his sister, kids from school, and other people in his life.   While August is an extraordinary boy, he wants to be an ordinary kid like everyone else.  Seeing August from the perspective of his friends and family really helps the reader to understand August's struggles as well as the struggles of those around him. Be sure to read the bonus chapter about Julian--it's one of the best parts of the whole story,The different strokes of narration come together to create a painting of acceptance, kindness, and compassion.  I honestly felt like a better person just for reading Wonder.

I loved this book I wanted to share it with my family so I decided to make it part of our family dinner routine.  Starting next week, I am going to read a little bit of it each night before we eat.  Then we can discuss as we eat.  I have prepared some questions for chapter 1 and 2 in advance.  I want the conversation to flow so I might not discuss all of these.  I'll see where the conversation takes us.
  • How is Auggie a wonder?
  • Why does Auggie get stared at wherever he goes?
  • How does Auggie feel about himself?
  • What are the pros and cons of Auggie going to school?
  • Who are Auggie's friends?  
  • Why do friends grow apart?
Many of our future discussion questions will stem from Mr. Browne's Precepts ideas.  Mr. Browne is August's teacher. Each month he asks his students to write and discuss a precept, which is basically a rule for life.  Here is a list of some of these precepts in case you would like to use them in your dinner conversation as taken from the Wonder and its Appendix.
"When give the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."--Dr. Wayne Dyer
"Your deeds are your monuments." --inscription on an Egyptian tomb
"Audentes fortuna iuvat. (Fortune favors the bold.)--Virgil

These statements are golden and I am sure will prompt lots of great discussion.  Through them, I hope to get to know my family better and also help them to get to me better.   

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