A Day of Wonder

March 1, 2016 | By

Last week, our high school held its inaugural book day, based on the novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. The day was jam packed with sessions that explored different dimensions of the novel, and allowed our participants to experience literature in a new way!

Book day began with a keynote address by Dina Zuckerberg, director at myFace, a non-profit organization that helps children with facial malformations. Dina spoke about her experiences growing up with a craniofacial disorder and being the victim of bullying, and encouraged us all to be “upstanders,”- people who takes an active role in the face of wrongdoing. Dina concluded by telling us the story of Nathaniel (pictured below), a young boy with Treacher Collin’s sydnrome who served as R.J. Palacio’s inspiration for Auggie’s character.

After this opening address, participants had a variety of sessions to choose from.
In her session on “The Masks We Wear,” psychologist Karen Herrmann explored the ways that makeup, clothing, and insincerity can impact on our personal interactions and discussed why we often feel the need to put a “mask” on for others. Genetic counselor Esther Rose taught us about Jewish genetic diseases, and about the ethical considerations families are being confronted with in the face of new technology. Rabbi Shay Schachter brought in the lens of Torah as he explored the themes of resilience and personal struggle in Tanach. After lunch, participants had the chance to mod-podge their own masks, learn about animal therapy as they played with puppies from Love on a Leash, and discuss Daring Greatly and “fitting in” with Mrs. Zerykier.

Dr. Sara Schwartz Gluck concluded our day with a workshop titled, “Mean Girls and Bullying.” Her interactive session used anonymous text messages to illustrate how words can be used both intentionally and unintentionally to hurt others. She provided both the students and parents in the room with tools to diffuse tense situations and foster healthy friendships.

Book day enabled us to engage with Wonder in a new way, and gave our current and future students the opportunity to learn and explore together for the first time! Most importantly, it reinforced over and over again the value of kindness – an essential message of the novel – and reminded us to always be “kinder than necessary.”

Filed in: Special Events

About the Author (Author Profile)

Comments are closed.