It’s somewhat rare for a novel to have the sort of societal impact of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. The bestseller and soon-to-be-feature-film touched millions of hearts and sparked the “Choose Kind” movement while shining a light a bullying and encouraging empathy and acceptance. Since its publication, Wonder has become a classroom staple, but has quite a lot to offer adult readers as well. Bullying has become a pervasive and hot-button issue, and with good reason. The advent of social media and our perpetually connected society have opened startling new avenues of cruelty while providing a cloak of anonymity and emotional distance. With the inspirational and heartwarming story of Auggie Pullman set to arrive in theaters, we thought it good time to take a look at a few other books that tackle the subjects of bullying, empathy, acceptance, and kindness.
R. J. Palacio
Auggie Pullman was born with a facial difference that kept him from attending school for most of his childhood. With fifth grade approaching, Auggie’s parents make the decision to enroll him in Beecher Prep. What follows is an emotional and turbulent journey with a simple and heartwarming message: Choose kindness.
In this memoir, Robert Hoge recounts the difficulties of his life with incisive honesty and grace. Born with deformed legs and a tumor in the middle of his face, Robert underwent a number of surgeries that would affect his appearance for the rest of his life. Featuring a wry combination of inspiration and humor, Ugly is a powerful reminder of precisely how much we are capable of.
Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear. It’s part of an Autism-like condition that his doctors cannot identify. When his father, who has never fully accepted Marcelo’s differences, brings him to work in his firm’s mailroom, Marcelo discovers romance and a community he never expected.
(Broadway Tie-in Edition)
Mark Haddon’s celebrated novel is a powerful and captivating read. It centers on Christopher John Francis Boone, a self described “mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.” He can recite all the countries in the world and prime numbers up to 7,057, but can’t stand to be touched and has difficulty recognizing emotions the others. When a neighbor’s dog dies under mysterious circumstances, Christopher is compelled into an investigation that is equal turns delightful, bizarre, and affirming.
Following the tragic death of her brother in a school shooting, Caitlin’s world is turned upside down. Caitlin has Asperger’s and her brother, Devon, has long been her rock. Caitlin’s grieving father is too distraught to help her process her own grief. What follows is a compelling and profound story examination of grief and closure.
James St. James
Billy Bloom is a teenage drag queen and the target of constant ridicule and bullying at the ultra-conservative, ultra-rich Eisenhower Academy. Unwilling to compromise who he is or his over-the-top originality, Billy does what any resourceful underdog would do – he makes a run for prom queen. At turns outrageous, touching, and funny, Freak Show is well worth a read.
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
This masterful examination of grief and loss is as haunting as it is powerful. A Monster Calls centers on a young boy named Conor who, while dealing his mother’s cancer diagnosis and impending death, is also the subject of cruel bullying and constant ridicule. However, eventually an ancient and wild creature appears in his backyard and guides Conor on a profound and touching quest toward acceptance.