Here I go with another great American author! I discovered Patricia Polacco when I had some wonderfully gifted grade 2 readers and grade 3 students. Her books have more challenging print (more words, more difficult words) so they were appropriate for stronger young readers and great for a read aloud session too. The beautiful illustrations clearly reveal how the characters are feeling which enhances the experience too.
This author had an interesting childhood, early years on a farm with beloved grandparents and later years in a more urban setting. Her experiences are reflected in her stories about family relationships and life’s problems from a child’s perspective. She manages to teach life lessons and reveal important truths without preaching, so these were the kind of books that would ensure rapt attention from the children and frequently a hearty round of applause at the end of the book. (I was talented at reading aloud, but I never fooled myself into believing they were applauding for me!)
The very first of her wonderful books I acquired was Thank You Mr. Falker. It tells the at times, heart breaking story of Trisha as she starts school with an enthusiastic desire to read but encounters great difficulty as the years crawl past. Soon she had no desire to go to school and no confidence in her abilities. It was further eroded by fellow students who called her ‘dummy’ and laughed mercilessly at her failings. Finally in grade 5 she meets Mr. Falker, a new and very compassionate teacher who understands the root of her difficulties and helps her to overcome them. When I read the author’s note at the end of the book and the children realized that the dyslexic Trisha is the author of her own story, there wasn’t a dry eye in the class. This kind of book that shows a child overcoming a severe learning problem promoted greater compassion and understanding from some of the more capable students and provided hope for the ones who struggled.
Now just a brief mention of some of my other favourites. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother is a great story for battling siblings. The Bee Tree tells the story of a young girl learning an important lesson about learning from her grandpa. Babushka’s Doll relates the tale of a little girl who makes unreasonable demands on her grandmother and learns just how difficult a demanding creature can be when she spends a magical afternoon with her grandmother’s demanding doll. A great book to read aloud to a child who needs to learn they can’t always get what they want!
I really enjoyed reading the lovely heart warming stories by Patricia Polacco and recommend you try one if you are looking for something different.