Like many students, I experienced difficulties when it came to reading and especially spelling. My parents were great in trying to get me all the help I needed (even requesting that I be tested for learning disabilities). The assessments did not show I had a problem, but later on was discovered I had a vision issue. I don’t remember much about how I was learning to read in 1st and 2nd, but I do remember how stressful spelling was for me from 1st grade to 5th grade. A special, public, thank you to my family for helping me complete the evil Spelling Workbook pages each week and especially to my younger sister who would do the word finds for me. The spelling patterns never made sense and I don’t think the teachers spent a lot of extra time teaching the patterns, or giving extra practice time in school to overlearn the patterns. I just remember doing the workbook, usually as homework, writing my words 5xs, and using the spelling word in sentences. But for many of my friends, spelling was easy for them and they couldn’t understand why I kept missing so many on my tests.
I wish this book was around when I was in school. Not because Ally and I had the same struggles, we had similar struggles, and because Ally is a character I think the 12 year old Sarah would have liked. The book I’m talking about is Fish in a Tree. Take a few minutes and go read some of the reviews on Amazon. I think this should become required reading for anyone in a literacy program, administration program, or special education program.
Ally is a student who thinks she’s dumb because she has a hard time reading and writing and therefore has some struggles in school. Ally is very artistic and carries a sketchbook around with her. She calls it the Sketchbook of Impossible Things because to Ally, many of the things she has sketched seem impossible to her because of her hard time with reading. I’m not going to give much more away because it is such a wonderful story but I will add this. If you have a hard time reading Patricia Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker, (because you start tearing up) you’re going to LOVE this story.
Please share the title of this book with anyone you know who has struggled with learning, has had thoughts of being dumb or stupid, and with all the teachers you know. This books needs to be in the hands of many so let’s get the word out and get people reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.
As a side note, October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and this would be a great read aloud for this month.