The most current book on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is R.J. Palacio’s Wonder from 2012. It’s only at number 65 but I anticipate that, if this poll is ever done again, it will work its way up over the years. It’s a refreshingly honest story about growing up.
What it’s about: August Pullman was born with massive craniofacial deformities. After many surgeries and years of homeschooling, his parents have decided that, for fifth grade, it’s time that he attend school. The book follows Auggie, his older sister Via, and their friends through this first year that he spends at Beecher Prep.
Age level: Grades 4+
Best part: I loved the multiple viewpoints. Though Auggie has the most obvious trial to deal with, he’s not the only one who doesn’t have an easy way through things. We see many realistic teenage trials like loss of friends, parental divorce, poverty, and academics.
Worst part: The tears that this book caused me. You really couldn’t read this one in public because it will make you cry like half a dozen times!
There are a few parts of this book that will probably feel dated later because Palacio uses pop culture references quite a bit. Still, the overall messages of the book are so important and universal that this story will have staying power regardless. Kids and adults both love this book too which means it will always be in libraries. We don’t have a copy in our home library yet but we will soon.
The next book up is Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, which probably means it will not be merely tear-inducing, rather it will be heart-wrenching-sob-inducing. I’m looking forward to it being a strong story.