When I read Wonder by RJ Palacio, so many ideas were bursting out of my head for how I could teach this incredible novel. In addition to creating my own Wonder novel study unit, I also came up with the character analysis activities featured here.
This is one of those perfect novels to share with your upper elementary and middle school students. It is rare to find a story that connects with so many adolescent readers. Each year, our Wonder novel unit makes a significant impact on how my students read, think, and feel.
If you haven’t read this incredible story, here is a quick summary: Wonder is about an extraordinary ten-year-old boy named Auggie Pullman who was born with a cleft palate and mandibular dysostosis. Due to the twenty-seven surgeries he has been forced to endure, he has been home-schooled by his mother. Auggie and five other narrators share the story of his start of the school year at Beecher Prep and the challenges faced because he doesn’t look “ordinary” like everyone else he encounters. Wonder is a story that encourages readers to consider the interactions and relationships we form in our lives.
Novels that help my students and work to be more empathetic to one another will always be snatched up for my classroom bookshelves. Empathy is a skill that is tricky to teach, but one that is essential to helping a classroom full of adolescents relate more thoughtfully to one another. I need teaching tools that help me communicate the importance of how our words and actions directly impact others. We need to realize that we have no idea what experiences another person has had throughout the course of their life, so we need to be understanding of their needs and life experiences.
Wonder is a great mentor text for empathy and character analysis. I created this character analysis flip book to help my students better understand the state of empathy within this book.
By completing character analysis work like this at the end of the novel, students get a better perspective on the narrator’s thoughts and how there is always more than one side to every story. Since there are six narrators in Wonder who all share their perspective on their relationship with Auggie, it is a great book to compare traits across multiple characters.
You can use this Character Thoughts from Wonder activity to get students to think outside of themselves and reflect on the characters from the story. We can get very self-centered and self-focused while forgetting about how words and actions can both positively and negatively impact others. We need to be considerate and understanding of one another.
Complete this activity as a whole class, small group, in partners, or independently. You will just need to make copies accordingly.
1. Print out the Character Heads and Character Thoughts task cards. Each student will need their own set of Character Heads.
2. Read the Character Thoughts task cards that correspond to each character.
3. Allow students to use markers, colored pencils, or any writing tool to record their ideas in the designated space.
4. Fill in the thoughts that would be going through each character’s head after reading each task card.
5. Use as few or as many task cards as you choose depending on the time you have available.
6. Once students have completed the thoughts in each characters’ head, they can cut, staple, and create a flip book.
7. Students can add as little or as much color and detail as the teacher determines. See the image examples for ideas.
8. The goal is for students to reflect on how our words and our actions can impact others in relation to this story.
If you are looking for the perfect book to help students work on character analysis and feel empathy toward the characters in this story and one another, I definitely recommend Wonder by RJ Palacio as an essential book.
Click on the image below to get my complete Wonder Novel Study Bundle, which includes the character analysis flip book I featured in this blog post.