Books Books about Books Dusty Bookshelves and Library Loot Meta-Reading Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Gift That Keeps On Giving in “Miss Little’s Gift”


Myra here.

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.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

5 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] A Gift That Keeps On Giving in “Miss Little’s Gift”

  1. Your pairing idea is good, Myra. This is a new book to me and it sounds wonderful. Having a teacher that “knows” just who you are is a gift which I see that Douglas Wood acknowledges beautifully.


  2. I remember reading this because I had read his Old Turtle books. I love books where the characters learn how to read.


  3. I remember reading this because I had read his Old Turtle books. I love books where the characters learn how to read.


  4. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Celebrating Births and Sunrises in Picturebooks – Gathering Books

  5. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] Patricia Polacco’s Tribute To Mr. Falker – Gathering Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: