The Family That Reads Together

19 January 2016 | Smile Train

United Kingdom— Isabelle Blears became an advocate for children living with unrepaired clefts, after she read RJ Palacio’s book Wonder with her mother, Sylvie, last summer holiday.

Wonder is a work of fiction about a 10-year-old boy named Auggie, who has several craniofacial differences, including a cleft lip and palate. The author decided to write the book in-part because of his own young son’s fearful reaction to a little girl with craniofacial differences and he wanted to teach his child that these differences are nothing to fear.

In the book, Auggie tries to balance attending school for the first time, making new friends, and avoiding bullies. Isabelle says, “When Auggie was younger, he used to like wearing a space helmet to hide his face, but he can’t do that anymore at school. He is really brave and makes lots of friends but some of the children are nasty to him. He eventually realises that people who are nasty to him, because of the way he looks, are wrong and he shouldn’t be friends with them anyway.”

After Isabelle and Sylvie finished the book, Isabelle told to her mum that she would like to help someone with facial differences like Auggie. The two decided that they would raise funds for Smile Train together, with the goal of raising enough for one cleft surgery by Christmas.

“First we did a collection and a smile quiz in my class and raised about £120. Then at the school’s Christmas fair, we sold some nice homemade bubble bath and bath salts and raised another £140,” said Isabelle.

Sylvie raised even more with help from family and friends for a total of £350. Isabelle then told her mum that she wanted to give £100 out of her own savings so that they could reach a grand total of £450, enough for three new smiles!