Everywhere I looked, there were—BIG words! STRANGE words! SCARY words!
A Walk in the Words is an inspiration. Author and illustrator, Hudson Talbott, shares his childhood story of his challenge with reading. He loved to draw, and he did it all the time. He also liked words. He would visualize each word as a picture. But when it came to long sentences, he struggled. He soon realized that he was the slowest reader in his class, and it felt, at times, that the books and words were coming after him. One big word was stalking me—overwhelm.
But Hudson was determined. His love of stories and drawing kept him going. He grabbed overwhelm and broke off over so it just said whelm. That word seemed manageable. He decided to just read slowly, at his own pace, seeking out the words he knew, journeying through the stories. He learned about others in history who were also slow readers, and he kept drawing, bringing his pictures to life with his pencils and his words.
Before reading, my third graders jotted down things they struggled with at school or at home.
During reading, they shared what they were seeing on the pages, the clever ways Hudson Talbot wove words into his illustrations, and how his path began as individual steppingstones but soon became a smoother sidewalk of bricks side-by-side.
After reading, they considered their own struggles and considered what they might do to ease their worries and frustrations. Here are a few of their thoughts:
“I struggle with math fast facts. I can be calm and not think about the time.”
“I struggle with keeping my temper when I’m playing piano. I can really try to concentrate or take a deep breath.”
“I struggle with basketball because I am small, and I can’t jump high. I can make myself stronger by doing push-ups, pull-ups, and jump a lot.”
“I struggle with math and waking up in the morning to go to school. I can go to bed early and practice math every day.”