Thank You, Mr. Falker written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco (2001)
This is one of my favorite stories about teachers and learning to read. It’s actually a true story about the author, Patricia Polacco. As a young girl, Tricia didn’t learn to read like the other kids in her class. Whenever she tried, the letters and words would wiggle and squiggle on the page. School got harder and harder for her. Reading and Math became torture. When her family moved across the country, Tricia hoped that she would do better in school and that nobody would notice that she couldn’t read. By the time she was in third grade, Tricia was teased and bullied by the other students. This made her hate school. But in fifth grade she met a teacher who changed her life. Mr. Falker appreciated Tricia’s talents for drawing. He was able to stop the students from teasing her in the classroom, but he couldn’t do anything to help her when she wasn’t in his classroom. Mr. Falker understood Tricia. He worked with her after school and taught her to read in a way that she could understand. Finally, she read! And she understood the whole thing! When she got home she grabbed a jar of honey and spooned honey on its cover just as her grandfather had taught her when she was a little girl.
Because of Mr. Falker, Patricia Polacco learned to love school. Years later she was met Mr. Falker again and thanked him in person for the gift of reading. The same gift she uses now to write books for children. This book is a tribute to him and to teachers everywhere who help children learn to read.
Below is a wonderful reading of the story, Thank You Mr. Falker, by actress Jane Kaczmarek. It is part of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation Book Pals. Even if you have read the book, you owe yourself the favor of listening to it read and savoring the richness and the sweetness of the language and the story. If you have never read it, you must watch. I guarantee it is a treat for the eyes and ears.