Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Librarian Told Me to Get Tissues

My school librarian told me I would need tissues also. When I checked out the book, she said I should make sure to have a box of tissues with me too. I chuckled and said sure. I'm not the crying type, but I am an emotional guy. Still, I knew I wouldn't need tissues.

I had been wanting to read Sharon Draper's Out Of My Mind for a long time. I heard wonderful things about it from my Twitter feed. It was going to be part of the 2013 Global Read Aloud, but unfortunately none of my 4th and 5th grade classes were participating so I wouldn't have that opportunity to read it. I had several books on my to read list and didn't know when I would get around to it. But it kept showing up.

One day I wandered into the school library and saw the book on the counter. I picked it up and read a few pages while waiting for the librarian. I was hooked! It was just as good as everyone was saying! So I checked it out and that's when the librarian said I should have tissues too.

I took it home to enjoy as my bedtime reading, expecting to have it for a couple of weeks. I might even have to renew it because I knew I wouldn't find much time at home to read. But I found myself making any kind of excuse to hang out in my room so I could sneak in a chapter or two. Last night I stayed up late for several hours so I could finish it, and I'm glad I did!

I never did cry. But wow! What an emotional roller coaster! I was humbled by Melody's back story and how she felt about her disability and inability to express herself. I was ticked off at the doctors and teachers who treated her like an illiterate baby with no IQ. How dare they not see beyond the physical disability and see inside her for the potential! I almost felt ashamed of my profession!

I was excited when she got teachers and an aide who truly understood her and her potential. I was thrilled that she had a fantastic neighbor like Mrs. V to help foster her love for learning. My heart pounded during her tryout for the quiz team and, of course, during the entire competition. I was angry for the way the team treated her and almost shouted out when she confronted them.

I wonder why I connected so much with this book? Is it because I am an educator too and I believe in the potential of every child? Last year my office was right across the hall from the autistic class made up of 4th and 5th graders. I was always in and out of their room and they always greeted me like a long lost friend. Did that experience give me a certain level of hope, understanding, and compassion for Melody?

It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I really, really, really enjoyed that book! I'm grateful for Twitter for bringing it to my attention, and I'm grateful for a librarian who made sure I was ready to read it!

1 comment:

  1. I think we are all one second away from experiencing what Melody coped with. Even though we weren't born with her struggles, one cataclysmic event could give us her perspective in real life. One car crash. One bad fall. One icy sidewalk. I think about her all the time because of how many adults I admire - who used to be sharp-minded and quick with their wit - who aren't able to keep their balance anymore or keep a conversation going. I know it's not the same thing, but there are many parallels and I think it helps me to consider them having a lucidity that Melody has that isn't apparent on the outside. Melody helps me gain patience for people. When I'm with people, young or old, I look for common understanding differently than I once did. Thanks, Melody.