The Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition is pleased to announce its 2017 One Book, One Community selection for Tuscarawas County: Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The New York Times best-seller tells the story of August "Auggie" Pullman, a ten-year-old boy stricken with a rare craniofacial disorder, and chronicles his first year in a public school setting after being home-schooled by his mother for several years.
Critics, teachers, and readers have applauded the book for tackling such difficult yet extremely timely subject matter. It has sold over five million copies around the world since its 2012 publication and will be released as a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay in November. Publisher's Weekly wrote that "it's a rare story with the power to open eyes and hearts to what it's like to be singled out for a difference you can't control, when all you want is to be just another face in the crowd."
"Wonder is an incredible story that reminds readers of the importance of practicing kindness and compassion to everyone they encounter," said Andrea Legg, this year's chairwoman of the One Book, One Community project. "I think it would be difficult to read this book, as either a student or an adult, and not have an immediate positive reaction. Now, more than ever, readers of all ages need a story that awakens them, that inspires them, and that ultimately motivates them to actively choose kindness."
Conceived in Seattle in 1998, the idea of creating civic unity through the common reading of literature is what has inspired One Book, One Community programs to emerge all over the world. According to the American Library Association, there are now thousands of statewide, citywide, and countywide reading programs that all strive for the shared goal of unity through books. Tuscarawas County has been engaging its community with community-wide reading programs since 2008.
"Each year, the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition selects a book title that will be sure to engage our community's readers," Legg continued. "The project has featured classics like Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, memoirs like John Elder Robison's Look Me in the Eye, and young adult novels like Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why. While the content of each selected book is different, the shared reading experience and subsequent discussion among readers are at the heart of each project."
This year's One Book, One Community committee is comprised of a group of public library staff, local educators, and leaders of county organizations. The committee is currently working to raise funds in an attempt to distribute copies of Wonder to area middle-schoolers this fall and plan a culminating event set to take place at Kent State Tuscarawas on November 6th. Legg noted that the kickoff of the program will take place early in the fall, with programs and book discussions at local libraries set to celebrate the book's message of kindness.
"The universal slogan of Wonder is 'choose kind,' and I can't think of a better message to spread throughout our community," Legg said.