Lectures & Speaking Topics

The Wonder of Wonder
Palacio will discuss how she went from being a book cover designer for other people’s novels to becoming the author of her own novel, Wonder. The talk will touch on the real-life experience that inspired her to write Wonder (a brief encounter with a child who had a severe craniofacial difference), and how the soul-searching she did afterward, combined with her son’s first year of middle school and a Natalie Merchant song, resulted in her writing her first book. For children ages 8 up and adults.
Choosing Kind
While Wonder is about a boy with a craniofacial difference, it has also been described as a “meditation on kindness.” Using the themes in Wonder as a launching point, Palacio will explore the impact of kindness on the world. What is the difference between simply being nice, and choosing to be kind? Can one act of kindness truly save the world? Palacio will look at moments in history and in literature where kindness—or the lack thereof—is a central theme. For children ages 8 up and adults.
Raising Kind Children
Today’s news is full of stories of bullying among children. While parents look to schools for answers, Palacio wonders if parents themselves don’t hold the key to the solution. In trying so hard to raise high-achieving children for these super-competitive times, do parents—knowingly or unknowingly—telegraph the message that kindness is somehow incompatible with having a competitive edge? Do we put more emphasis on success in sports and academics than we do on achieving success at simply being a good human being? If we spent as much time teaching kids the old-fashioned virtues of politeness, respect, tolerance, fair-mindedness, etc., as we did getting them ready for state exams, would kindness be met with less skepticism in today’s world, where it seems to be perceived as a form of weakness? Can kindness even be taught, or is it something that can only be inspired? Using Wonder as a launching point, Palacio raises these questions and more. For adults.
The Wonder of Books (or Why You Can’t Have an Author Sign a Kindle)
Before becoming the author of Wonder, R. J. Palacio was an art director and editor with 25 years of experience in book publishing. She designed book covers for hundreds of authors (Paul Auster, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel, Sue Grafton, Louise Ehrdrich, and Colum McCann to name a few), and worked side by side with editors, marketing executives, publicists, proofreaders, agents, and production managers before becoming director of children’s books at her current job. Few people can know what it’s like to be on both sides of book publishing, both as a published author and as a true publishing “insider,” and Palacio shares her story (and some advice) for would-be authors, book lovers, designers, and anyone interested in a career in publishing. For adults.

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