“365 Days of Wonder” Features Young Readers as Authors


Want to meet a few famous local authors? Perhaps you can get on their schedule after school sometime, if they’ve finished their homework. 

Author RJ Palacio had no idea her novel, Wonder, would be such a hit when it was published in 2012; but people so connected with its characters that what was intended as a book for 8-12 year olds became an international bestseller among readers of all ages. Nashville fourth graders (now fifth graders) Elizabeth, Cate, and Rosemary were among the millions of readers who adored the story of Auggie, a 10-year-old boy with a severe facial deformity. “My teacher, Mrs. Gift, read Wonder to my class and I automatically loved the book,” says Rosemary. “It was a great book to me because of the different point of views from multiple characters. Wonder is about bullying, a hard life, friendship, happiness, and different points of view.”

In Wonder, Mr. Browne is an English teacher who teaches precepts — or guiding principles — as inspiration to students. In this new book, there’s a precept for every day of the year, offering words to live by from historical figures, philosophers, and songs. When Palacio decided to create the spin-off book, she invited readers to submit their own ideas for consideration and received more than a thousand submissions in just a couple of weeks, including some from students at Harding Academy in Nashville. A few months later, Elizabeth, Cate, and Rosemary found out their entries were among the more than 100 reader submissions chosen for the book.

“I was so amazed when Mrs. Gift announced my name at assembly,” Cate says. “It is such a great experience to have my words in a book. I can’t wait to read all the precepts in 365 Days of Wonder.”

The precepts include quotes from inspirational figures such as Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela, as well as from characters in Wonder. Rosemary chose a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, rendered here in Rosemary’s best penmanship:


Elizabeth and Cate decided to come up with precepts of their own:


The simply and beautifully designed hardback book would make a perfect gift for a young person — or a grownup person, for that matter. The lessons of Wonder extend to all ages, after all.

“My favorite thing about Wonder is it made me realize that although someone may be different on the outside, they can be even better than ordinary,” Elizabeth says. “It taught me to not just say hi and walk away from someone different and that I should get to know them.”

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the swapAlso new for middle-grade readers this week: The Swap by Megan Shull, which tells the story of Ellie and Jack, two 7th graders who get to understand each other a little better when they somehow manage to swap lives — and bodies! Here’s a fellow Harding student, Caroline, refusing to put it down.







Wonder (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780375869020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2/2012

ISBN-13: 9780553499049
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 8/2014

The Swap (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780062311696
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books, 8/2014