Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anything but junk…

Recently, I attended a workshop presented by the author of Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf (612.82 WOP 2008), which was all about the brain and the wonder of reading.  One of the things the author said that really struck me (besides all the really interesting stuff about reading – another blog) was about the brains of people with dyslexia.  That these are brains that are needed in our world.  That there is nothing wrong with these brains.  That these brains process information differently.  And that many of these brains belong to famous people renowned for innovative thinking, people like Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci and Auguste Rodin (for more names check out the website Famous People with the Gift of Dyslexia .
I just finished reading Patricia Polacco’s book The junkyard wonders (823 P756J8 PIC BK) which I found very touching and reminded of Maryanne Wolf’s comments.

It’s based on Patricia Polacco’s own experiences in school when she was placed in a class with lots of ‘odd’ children known as the junkyard kids.  The kids in the book all have different learning and physical needs, which does not perturb their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, one little bit.  She encourages them to see beyond their perceived limitations and believe in themselves.  A cruel insult from a boy, not in the class, demeans the name of ‘Junkyard Wonders’ given to them by Mrs. Peterson. To help them understand what is wonderful about junkyards, the class pays a visit to one, looking for objects that can be transformed into something new - “forget what the object was…imagine what it could be!”  The enterprise is successful after a few tribulations bravely met along the way

A brief afterword by Patricia tells what became of a few kids from her ‘tribe’ in this class; one became the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre Company in New York, one a textile designer invited to work in Paris, another an aeronautical engineer for NASA and of course, Patricia herself, a well-loved children’s author/illustrator.

This book was a great way to reinforce Maryanne Wolf’s premise about the brilliance to be found in the minds of people who think differently.


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