As teachers we are always looking for a powerful read aloud, one meaty enough that we can teach it for a month, a semester, year after year. This is one of those books.
The basic summary is that a boy named August, who has significant facial deformation, is entering school for the first time to attend 5th grade. Told from several perspectives, you are able to see the bravery of August entering this new world, juxtaposed with his sister’s desire to have a fresh start in High School, and his friends’ desire to be friends with August without being social outcasts.
August himself is so loveable that you root for him from the beginning, and the bumpy, challenging, painful first year made me cry and laugh, ever honest about what it is like to not fit in with all the other kids.
If you’re thinking about teaching this book, it also has some other interesting topics for discussion, such as death, bullying, entitlement, and theater.
This book should be read by all of us. Everyone who has every wondered what to say when they see someone with special needs, everyone who has every had special needs or been a friend to someone with special needs, and everyone who remembers what it was like to want so desperately to make friends in grade school. This book has a powerful message for us all.
(Intended audience: 4th grade and up)