Wonderful New Book

We're All Wonders book

Over the years, many readers have requested a post about how to raise good people. But what a tough question! I don’t know all the answers, but one thing I do think can help get kids on the right track are very special books…

We're All Wonders new children's book

Last Friday, we cuddled up and read We’re All Wonders, a new picture book by R.J. Palacio. It features Auggie, a boy born with a facial deformity. He feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way, especially at school. The story focuses, through his own voice, on his realization that he has a place in the world. Along the way, it teaches kindness, tolerance, empathy and self-acceptance.

We're All Wonders children's book

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The illustrations are striking and beautiful, and I actually teared up as Toby read the final few pages, especially the line, “I know I can’t change the way I look, but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see.” And the best thing about books like these is that they start conversations with your children — about what they’d do in the same situation, when they’ve felt different, and how to see and accept people as they really are. What a beautiful thing.

We're All Wonders book

We’re All Wonders is the younger-kid version of Wonder, the bestselling novel (and soon-to-be movie) geared to eight- to twelve-year-olds.

Have you read the Wonder books? What other children’s books are you into these days? xoxo

(Photos by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Random House Children’s Books, which is holding a We’re All Wonders sweepstakes with great prizes. For more information, go here. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Joanna says...

    I absolutely love Palacio’s work in both these books. Before I became a literacy specialist I taught 5th grade. The year Wonder came out, I had an especially challenging group. This young group of students had a difficult time with kindness, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others. It was like Palacio had dropped this eye-catching, blue book in my lap. What a wonderful gift it was! I read this book aloud to my students, and I often spent much longer than 15 minutes each day reading aloud because my students were so engrossed in the story. By the end of the book, my students had a new level of respect for themselves and the other students in the room. It was so important to me that my classroom feel like a community, and Wonder was exactly what my class needed that year.

  2. Shira says...

    I’m excited to check out Wonder. I think my kids might be a bit young for it, though (2 and 3). We’ve been reading “We’re Different We’re the Same,” which is a Sesame Street book and has become a favorite. It was recommended to me by a close friend who had osteosarcoma in her jaw, and the surgeries to remove it left her looking “different.”

  3. I’m a teacher, and I have read Wonder (with my students). We loved it!!! Cant wait to see the movie.

  4. Cindy says...

    I read Wonder aloud to my boys over several weeks when they were preteens. Highly, highly recommend. It sparked great conversation and gave me great vocabulary to use with them on some really deep issues. So glad to hear this has been adapted to a children’s book!!

  5. ck says...

    Where is that whale print from? So cute!

  6. Sounds like a wonderful series. I’ll have to check it out for my nephews and nieces! Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. Ozge says...

    As someone who grew up with 2nd and 3rd degree burn scars (and some physical complications due to them), I felt same as Auggie most of the time. When you are young, it is really hard to understand why people stare at you or see you differently while you feel perfectly normal. I was lucky to have an amazing family who made sure I knew that my scars does not make me any different than other people. Still, I wish people were more understanding and empathetic. Also, growing up, I wish I had a book like this that I could relate to. It’s not late though. I’m definitely getting one soon:)

    Thank you Joanna! I’ve been following you for years and it’s amazing seeing A Cup Of Jo turned into this platform where people from all different backgrounds are included.

  8. Shannon says...

    Thank you for the great book rec.

    My son loves whales. Can I ask where you found that great poster?

  9. Lisa says...

    Is that your house? I love the print and wallpaper so much! I hope you give a tour and provide sources. Also, I am going to buy the novel immediately. Thank you for the lovely post!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, thank you so much, lisa! we’re excited to do a house tour very soon! xoxoxo

  10. Lois says...

    My daughter – now 14 – read Wonder a few years ago and loved it. That was no surprise, as her character is very kind and empathetic. But recently my 12-year-old son and I decided to read a book aloud together (for a blast-from-the-past) and we chose Wonder. I loved it, and so did my electric guitar-wielding, hockey-playing, rambunctious almost-teen-aged boy. It is a beautiful story. Also, the shifts in perspective that occur throughout the book provide an effective and fascinating literary style that you don’t encounter very often in children’s (and Young Adult) literature. Highly, highly recommended!

  11. h.r. says...

    For all the Wonder fans, The One and Only Ivan is another great chapter book for late elementary aged kids. I just read it to my 8 yr old and it led to lots of great conversations! I think even older kids would get more out of the book’s message.
    For little kids I like Odd Velvet and Zen Shorts.

  12. How wonderful! I often struggle with what to say when my children ask me about someone they see on the street who has a deformity or is handicapped. I want to teach empathy and understanding, but I just don’t know what words to use without seeming preachy. Looks like this book could really help. Thanks!

  13. Sally says...

    I am a children’s book editor and I can honestly say Wonder is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. So lovely and important, and as a lifelong New Yorker, I love books about city kids!

  14. Anna says...

    Just ordered it! I really enjoy your book recommendations!

  15. Great book. Yes, we all are wonders as no one is identical. Everyone has their own powers and specialty.

  16. These books are so important and they are such great conversation starters. Though I don’t have children of my own, I look forward to scoping it out at the library next time I’m there. Thank you, Joanna!

    x Tali
    http://www.stylecheese.com

  17. Wow, my daughter and I were just talking about Wonder this morning! I had the opportunity to meet the author and asked her what age she would recommend for the novel. She said that she felt it resonated most with kids around 5th or 6th grade and up. But my daughter tells me her 2nd grade classmates are reading it and rave about it, so I think we’ll give it a try.

  18. Meredith says...

    Love the conversation this is generating! Can you also share where the lovely watercolour whale illustration hung in your bedroom is from? Thanks!

    • Joanna – you posted about the whale print once before, and I bought their cactus print for my husband when we moved into our new apartment. We LOVE it!!

  19. Kristin says...

    I can’t wait to get this for my preschool classroom! We love reading books to our students about being a kind friend – Enemy Pie, Invisible Boy, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, Giraffes Can’t Dance – all are wonderful! Thank you for the recommendation!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are great recommendations, kristin! going to check these out right now. i also really like a sick day for amos mcgee and stick and stone.

  20. Alison Briggs says...

    ordered! Thank you so much for sharing. I will be honest, reading the preview pages on amazon already made me tear up – I wonder how I will be able to get through reading the whole thing! ;) We need more books like this today and this is exactly what I want to teach my young son!

  21. Kate says...

    I am about to start reading Wonder
    to my almost 8yo. We’ve just finished “there might be a castle” by Piers Torday which was amazing. I wasn’t sure how my son would cope with the subject and the end of the book which was pretty harrowing (I was in floods of tears) and he was really interested in it and stimulated quite a discussion. I had to explain lots of the novel to him due to the changing perspectives and narration. Highly recommend for adults as well as kids (but not young ones … more 7.5yrs and up).

  22. mandy says...

    We just finished Wonder last week. We would read it to our son before bed and then he would take it to his room and read on his own – one night for an hour!

    It is a fantastic book. I read it on my own to catch up with my son. It made me cry at the end. So moving.

  23. melissa says...

    Joanna! I LOVE your picture book/children’s book recommendations! Please keep them coming! I teach 7th & 8th grade English & I use all children’s picture books to teach the kids about the atrocities of The Holocaust before teaching Night by Elie Wiesel–they LOVE the children’s books (even at 12/13yrs). Out of all the books I use, I would recommend every parent read The Cat’s In Krasinski Square & Beno and the Night of Broken Glass with their children.

    On a side note–the children’s book Frida is INCREDIBLE–it is about the life of Frida Kahol. Beeeaaauutiful pictures in there.

    Parents! You should always read children’s book with your kids–of all ages!! There is no age limit on literature.

  24. Thanks for the tip. One question: is there a lot of text? We are in Sweden so, though I buy children’s books in English, I read them to my kids in Swedish, so I don’t want to order it if it’s very text-heavy (my brain is not up for that kind of translation at bedtime!) Thanks!

  25. I love the sound of this book. Sometimes I think my boys are too old (at 8 and 11) for picture books. But recently they read a book called Imaginary Fred, all about imaginary friendships, and they surprised me by loving it so much and reading it over and over. We’ve saved the script for Fantastic Beasts to read together over Easter :-) Thanks for this great recommendation.

  26. Kathy says...

    Wonder changed the way my son felt about reading. We often give it as a gift. It is so inspirational and such a beautiful story.

    • Kim J says...

      I love fairy tales!

    • Agreed, MaryJane!

  27. nina says...

    I am REALLY sick of people who have no experience with disability appropriating our voice and equating disability with difference, nothing beyond that. Imagine a white writer giving race the same treatment – would such a book be recommended or praised?

    • Mina says...

      Nina, as the parent of a child with disabilities, I somewhat agree with you. Still, promoting books such as this is an important way to teach children without disabilities kindness, empathy and open-mindedness. I can’t help but think that generally people are accepting of “differences” as long as those differences don’t scare them or make them feel uncomfortable. This is unfortunate. I hope kids and adults can learn to see beyond the uncomfortable and see kids — and all people — with an open mind. Empathy comes from there. So many things in life are actually different from what they appear. A little imagination is the key to seeing past our mirage of differences.

  28. Frieda says...

    This book is really special. My sister had to read it for school (in Germany) last year and my whole family ended reading it.

  29. Len says...

    I love this book, I was actually crying on the train with no tissue handy and never cared knowing people are staring. It teaches us to be kind, to understand that people are different and that there is always a story why people act the way they do. So, BE KIND. :D There is a follow-up book called Julian’s Chapter (a very hard to find now a days). This is where it is being explained why he is the way he is towards Auggie. I love that this book shows how much Auggie is loved by his family. And yes, I cannot not recommend this book enough to every body I know. I am 37 and read this book just two years ago. I love love love it. I’ve never read a book that’s moved me like this one, hit home.

  30. Vikki H says...

    As a former elementary librarian the stories the children always rose to love and claim were those that spoke to their longings to be accepted whether they were physically beautiful or pitifully plain. Wonder is an amazing book and it’s good to have a picture book version for the younger children.

  31. OMG i just finished reading Wonder with my 12 year old daughter. I had to speed read it to her one weekend as she had to finish it for school on Monday. She has a form of cerebral palsy and her own special set of needs and there was many a page that i was reading it through tears. Such an awesome awesome book. Mel x

  32. Anna says...

    I read Wonder to my son last year (when he was eight) and we both loved it. i like the way the author has made Auggie into a character children can easily relate to and then apply that empathy to real life.

  33. Jessica says...

    Thank you so much for the book recommendation Joanna! We’ll definitely check it out! Four books my five year old absolutely loves right now are two older ones (A New Coat for Anna and The Wizard of Oz – our first chapter book!!!) and two newer ones (Enough Love to Go Around and A Nest is Noisy). My almost two year old loves Hello World: Solar System and Each Peach Pear Plum. We love getting book recommendations! Would love to see a Cup of Joe post on your favorite children’s books in the future!

  34. Julia says...

    Thanks Joanna! I am studying to be a Child Life specialist and will definitely add this book to my list of books to get for kids and parents to check out! :)

  35. kate says...

    Wonder is life-changing for every reader who reads it. I read it to my fourth graders every year, and it’s loved by all, but also important for adults. So excited for the picture book.

  36. Gayle says...

    Thank you for letting me know about this book. My son and I have read the book Wonder, and it is such a special piece of literature. How perfect to adapt it for a younger audience.

  37. Rachel says...

    I first heard of this idea of building empathy through children’s books through a friend who has shared lots of good ones, love this idea. (https://www.instagram.com/emmkane/) thanks for sharing this one. My daughter is just a baby but I love being able to start getting this books now.

  38. Robin says...

    Excited to read this, and some of the books others recommended as well! a book I’ve been loving reading to my boys (3 and 5 mo) is What a Wonderful World, based on the Louis Armstrong song. No heavy messages, just the sweet words of the song. the illustrations are gorgeous and the boy in the pictures isn’t white, which I appreciate! And it’s available as a board book, which is nice for those of us with little ones still more interested in chewing their books than reading them ;).

  39. Christine says...

    “Harmony” by Carolyn Parkhurst Rosser (also wrote “Dogs of Babel”) is wonderful too – a story told from the perspective of the sibling of a boy with autism.

  40. Thank you for this recommendation Jo. I’ve gone ahead an pre-ordered it for my daughter. She’s only 17 months, but it’s never too early to start with good messages like this. This book would make such a great gift too – every time we spread the idea of empathy we’re helping to make positive change in the world, and every little bit counts.

  41. Vicki says...

    My big boys (7 and 9) are reading the novel version in school, and we all love it!

  42. Leah says...

    My son read Wonder years ago – probably 5th grade – and loved it so much I read it afterwards. He’s 15 now and it’s still one of his favorite books. I got him a calendar for Christmas this year based on the book.

  43. Gaby says...

    Along the lines of raising good kids… today my boss told me “I want to meet your mother to ask her how she raised such a kind person”. Such a lovely compliment to both of us, it took everything in me not to cry :)

    • What a kind comment from your boss. It must have made you feel really valued. Make sure you tell your Mom!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is incredible, gaby!

  44. Julia says...

    I have not read these books, but thank you for bring them to my attention! I have a daughter who looks different with hearing aids, glasses, and a deformed ear… but many of her ‘friends’ with her condition have much more pronounced differences. She is only 2, but I already struggle with how she will be accepted and how she will accept herself when she gets to be school aged.

  45. Kim says...

    The next book, “Auggie and Me” is fantastic too ! My youngest son (now 12 years) loved it a couple of years ago and they did both books, “Wonder” and “Auggie and Me” at school in grades 4 and 5. Very, very important to teach tolerance, empathy, kindness and acceptance at any age and for/with any differences.

    • kate says...

      Yes! And the stories in Auggie and Me help kids to think about different perspectives and what others are dealing with that we might not see, which is an important lesson, too.

  46. I can’t wait to read it! My daughter (age 3) and I read lots and lots of new children’s books each week from our library. Here in Seattle, our libraries are pretty great at featuring books that have positive and pro-social messages for children. A great one I recently picked up is called _Your Body is Awesome: Body Respect for Children_. I’m loving the reminders that bodies are awesome as my daughter is learning to appreciate all bodies. So important. Thank you for sharing!

    http://www.thewefiles.com

  47. I tear up reading this post. What a wonderful book! I ordered and can’t wait to read it to my 2-year-old autistic daughter. You’re one of the blogs that your sponsored posts actually not feeling like advertising but more like sharing. Thank you, Jo and the team.

  48. Stacey says...

    I am excited to try out this book. One of our house cleaners has a facial deformity and unfortunately she frightens our now three year old. My daughter loves books and I think this would help her to understand why some people look different. Thanks for featuring this!

  49. Lee says...

    Well said Joanna, a book is a powerful teaching tool. Plus, reading together as a family is such a gift. I can’t think of a better way to spend time with your children. Thanks for sharing your passion for reading and the books you love for both your and your little ones. My favorite new release is Triangle by Mac Barnett with strikingly spare and stunning illustrations by the phenomenal Jon Klassen. When I use books like this in my classroom it sparks the most incredible insights from the mouths of babes. The magic of a well told story never gets old.

  50. Ingrid says...

    I love Wonder. It’s my grandson’s favorite book too. I read it to my fifth grades classes, and they loved it too. It’s so good for teaching empathy and point of view. I haven’t read this younger version, but am anxious to get a copy for my young granddaughter. We need to learn to be kind and accept others’ differences, whatever they are.

  51. Amy says...

    My daughter was so touched by Wonder when she read it as a third grader that we got connected with the Children’s Craniofacial Association, a wonderful non-profit that helps children with craniofacial differences & their families. Lila hosted lemonade stands & then we hand delivered her earnings to CCA in Dallas. I encourage anyone who loved the book to check out CCAkids.com.

    *Sorry if this is a duplicate post. My computer is being insane, but I really want to help spread the word about the important work CCZ does for real life Auggies & their families*

  52. Amy says...

    My daughter read Wonder when she was in 3rd grade (She’s in 7th now) & like so many readers, she was completely taken with it. We discovered the Children’s Cranial Facial Association which is a wonderful non-profit that helps children with craniofacial differences like Auggie & their families. My daughter hosted lemonade stands “Lila’s Lemonade” to earn money to donate & we hand delivered her earnings to them in Dallas. The most wonderful women run CCA & I highly recommend to anyone who loves Wonder to check out the impactful work they do.

  53. evie says...

    I work at a library and that novel circulates SO OFTEN. For good reason, too! Very special book and very, very well-written.

  54. Allison says...

    My son’s 4th grade teacher read Wonder to his class this fall. My son was so excited and in love with the book that he convinced us to check it out at home as a family. We bought the audiobook for a car trip and all four of us were completely swept away. I love it and can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone with grade school kids.

  55. Lindsey says...

    I will add this one to our collection. Sounds wonderful. A book my kids have been loving, that also celebrates being different, is Small Saul. (Actually, ALL grade one student in Canada got this book at the beginning of the school year).

    • RBC says...

      Oh boo! My son is in grade one in Calgary and didn’t get this book (maybe because he’s in French immersion?) Now I’ll have to check it out. :)

  56. Jen says...

    I loved reading “Wonder” with my boys. It’s such a wonderful, touching book and I will add to the chorus of praises for it. I’m excited that they’ve adapted it into a picture book to get the message out to younger kids and I love a beautifully illustrated children’s book and even though my boys are now 11 & 14 I’m going to look into adding it to our library.

  57. OH, thank you so much for posting this! We recently received a diagnosis that our 5 month old daughter has Noonan’s Syndrome and I’ve been plagued with worries about her future. I know that potential health problems are out of our hands but I also worry about her looking a bit different; kiddos too often see differences in other kids as something to be pointed out and picked on. I don’t think I was able to celebrate my individuality until well after high school, so desperate was I to avoid standing out. My biggest fear is that my kid will feel distressed about her unique attributes and that she won’t see what I see when I look at her (a common parental worry, I know). I’ll definitely be picking up this book for her so she can celebrate her many special qualities :)

    • Agnès says...

      Hi Jess,
      Both my nieces have noonan syndrome! They’re 11 (twins); they looked quite different as babies, very very quiet and physically different. Today you wouldn’t notice a thing! They have a heart condition that is being treated but for the rest they’re lovely little girls. I’m sure it helps meeting other parents as this syndrome is not very well known.

    • RBC says...

      I don’t know anything about this syndrome, but I’d recommend the blog thislittlemiggy.com to any parents of children with special needs. I could say more, but I’ll let the blog speak for itself :) best wishes for you and your little one

  58. Allegra says...

    Just wanted to say that Joanna, you are an amazing mom. Seeing little ones brought up the way you and Alex parent your boys gives me hope for this world.

  59. Yes!!! This just made my day. I just read “Wonder” a few weeks ago, and now I’m about to launch into it with my 8 year old son. “Wonder” was deeply moving – it made me feel ALL the feelings. I’m very excited to read it with my oldest son; and I’m thrilled I will be able to share “We’re All Wonders” with my younger two kids as well. I get the best book recommendations for our whole family here at COJ. (We love “The Storm Whale” and others thanks to you!) Keep them coming, please! :)

    • Tasha says...

      We also love ‘The Storm Whale’ thanks to the recommendation here! And we just found the sequel, ‘The Storm Whale in Winter’–also a big hit at our house. Just reserved ‘We’re All Wonders’ from the library. Thank you!,

  60. Heather says...

    Long time reader, first time commenter: thank you for featuring this book. My then six year old son and I read Wonder and adored it. It was incredibly moving and conversation provoking. My boy is mature and emotionally intelligent as I suspect Toby is as well. Always worth reading on your own first but as you’d read the book to him you’d be able to decide along the way which parts might need smoothing over or omission. The sequel is just as fantastic! I’ll buy this younger version for my now almost eight year old to read to me!

  61. OMG! OMG! I am thrilled to read this post! I read Wonder with my daughter when she was in 2nd grade, and it has become her favorite book. She re-reads it often. Now, I can share the story with my younger child, too! Thank you for posting about amazing books!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so happy to hear that, annie!!

  62. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to read with my daughter, and it sounds like a great addition to our store’s children’s books collection.
    (And I teared up a bit just reading about you tearing up. Sigh. Motherhood.)

  63. Melissa says...

    This is lovely! I was never exposed to such books when I was young. I don’t have any kids yet but will definitely keep this in mind when the time comes. Thanks for sharing!

  64. My hormones are so out of whack, haha. I started tearing up and I haven’t read this yet! Will definitely need this for our little library :)

  65. Sasha says...

    I read “Wonder” a couple years ago, it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. “Rules” by Cynthia Lord is similarly wonderful (about a sibling with autism).

  66. S says...

    I read wonder with my big girl. It was the first book we really shared. It deeply touched us both. I can wait to now read this one with my 6 year old. Thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so great, S. how old is your daughter? i’m wondering if toby would understand the novel yet. it looks fantastic.

    • Sasha says...

      Joanna, I recommend reading it first yourself. Children are so unique in what is appropriate for their age.

    • Kile says...

      Wonder is an absolute favorite in our house and I think the question of whether your kid is ready to hear the story is about attention span rather than content. There’s heavy stuff in the book, but it’s very balanced with funny stuff and friendship stuff and family stuff and none of the heavy stuff feels over the top or meant to make the reader sad…just to make them a little more compassionate and kind. Also, the parents in the story are amazing and that made reading about the difficult things feel like I had a real support team in them, showing me how handle the sadder parts. I read this with my oldest when she was in kindergarten (and again in 1st grade) and we’ve listened to the audio book and the sequel in the car a number of times so my younger child has known these books since she was 3. On the sensitivity scale, I’d say my kids are emotional, but these books aren’t manipulative or “intense” the way some middle grade books can be. It’s been super enjoyable and rewarding to share these books with my kids and I hope we keep coming back to them. I’m excited get the picture book (and see the movie!)

    • S says...

      3rd grade.