Small Steps

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At our Middle School, we began Lunch Date with a Book this year. Basically, each month, we read a Newbery award winner and discuss the book at the end of the month while enjoying lunch. Students may sign up at the beginning of the year, choosing their top three choices. The librarian and I put them into groups based on their choices. This year, we only invited fifth graders to see if it would catch on. Because of its popularity, we were delighted to add three more monthly meetings.

This year, we had planned to read Flora & Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo, but it did not come out in paperback in time. We scrambled to locate a book and came across Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret.

Small Steps is the memoir of the author’s bout with polio when she was a seventh grader. The book chronicles her fight with the disease in 1949, before vaccinations were available. The story is heartwarming. One of my favorite lines is “A window of understanding opened in my mind, and the breeze of compassion blew in.” While in the hospital, she meets other girls her age who are also battling the disease, yet without families to support them for various reasons. It made me chuckle at times, and at other times, tears ran down my cheeks. I really didn’t know much about polio, its symptoms, treatments, or the effects of the disease, beside paralysis, before reading this novel.

I would highly recommend this book. It kept my interest completely. I am looking forward to hearing the reviews from our lunch groups tomorrow.

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