We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
I am finding that the stories I like the best are those which depict one’s journeys to reading, and how life-changing it can be – I truly believe that reading is the gift that keeps on giving. This is one such true story.
Miss Little’s Gift
Written by: Douglas Wood Illustrated by: Jim Burke
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2009
ISBN-10: 0763616869 (ISBN13: 9780763616861)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This story is based on a snapshot of Douglas Wood’s childhood, when he was in the second grade, and struggling with his reading.
Apart from the fact that he was the smallest and newest kid in the second grade, his family just moved from Kentucky to Iowa and he hardly knew anyone. He also struggled with reading words on a page, and he was resentful each time that his teacher, Miss Little, would ask him to stay behind after class so that she can help him practice his reading.
Douglas Wood describes himself to be more the outdoorsy kind of boy – he loved playing sports and he hated sitting still. However, it was this particular book that truly engaged him and made him want to read the next page and the next despite his difficulty in sounding out some of the words:
I liked the pictures in the book. It was about an island, and the pictures showed blue sky and blue sea, green trees and rocky shores and fish, all things that I knew about and liked.
And so it started with something as simple as this, and the magic of reading has cast its spell over Douglas who now found within him the motivation to persist despite his struggles.
But it also took a special kind of teacher who saw through him and was patient enough to provide him with a variety of reading materials until they hit on that sweet spot that turned everything around for this young boy who would eventually go on to publish over twenty books for children and adults. The Author’s Note also indicated that Douglas Wood suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder which made it even more difficult for him to remain still and focus on his reading. Evidently, he triumphed over his disorder and emerged not only a reader but a distinguished children’s book writer.
I would recommend that you pair this book with Patricia Polacco’s autobiographical Junkyard Wonders where she also shared her journey of suffering from dyslexia and rising above it as well through the help of an inspiring and dedicated teacher.