October is National Bullying Prevention Month and in support, Random House Children’s Books is unveiling a month-long campaign inspired by R.J. Palacio’s Wonder (Knopf, Feb.). The middle-grade novel stars Auggie, a fifth-grade boy with a severe facial deformity who is attending a mainstream school for the first time.
Back in May, Random House rolled out its Wonder-centric Choose Kind online anti-bullying campaign to provide a forum for readers of all ages to share stories, access information, and take the Choose Kind Pledge to practice everyday acts of kindness. But National Bullying Prevention Month affords an opportunity for the publisher to intensify its efforts. During the month of October, for every pledge signed at ChooseKind.tumblr.com, Random House will donate $1 to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. A counting ticker on the site will track the October pledges.
PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) is a Minneapolis-based family support organization that launched National Bullying Prevention Month in 2006. It has grown to include an extensive roster of awareness-raising events and activities nationwide. At PACER’s main outdoor event for the month, “Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying,” to be held in Minneapolis on October 6, Random House will donate copies of Wonder.Similar events will be scheduled nationwide throughout October. Copies of Wonder will also be donated to schools on PACER’s Unity Day, October 10, when students, parents, and teachers will wear orange to show their support of bullying prevention. Coincidentally, October 10 is also the birthday of Wonder protagonist Auggie.
Schools have been supporting Wonder since its publication, and are using it as a tool to promote kindness and prevent bullying. A “Teaching Wonder” guide by author and children’s advocate Trudy Ludwig has been added to the “resources” area of the Choose Kind site and will also be available at RHTeachersLibrarians.com. In addition, Random House is doing outreach to 5000 fifth- and sixth-grade teachers via email in 10 markets to alert them to the new educator guide and the Random House donation/pledge challenge on the Choose Kind site.
At a more grassroots level, educators started a Twitter conversation under the hashtag #WONDERschools, to share ideas and resources as they experience the book with their students. The idea became so popular that Amherst, N.Y. teacher David Etkin created the #WONDERschools Web site, with more than 100 educators participating.
As the month winds down, Palacio will participate in a Goodreads chat with Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why). Both authors will answer questions about their books, bullying, and other topics on October 23. And on October 29, Palacio will present a reading and lead a discussion at an event hosted by Understanding Our Differences, an organization based in Newton, Mass. that provides school-based disability awareness programs. WGBH producer and host Brian O’Donovan will moderate the event.