The Polacco Series: Gratitude

Some of you, and maybe a lot of teachers, might be familiar with the name Patricia Polacco. As educators, I think her books are essential components of our libraries. Polacco is a truly gifted author, who uses her life experiences and cultural heritage to write immensely touching books that, if you were being honest with yourself, border on a “tear-jerker”. Not only is this very talented author a moving writer, she illustrates her books with emotional sketches and tugging colours. I have done countless read-alouds with my students where we discuss her choice of colour for specific artwork, coming to the conclusion that like her words, her drawings are also bursting with meaning.

One of my favourite books from Polacco is the ADORED Thank you, Mr. Falker

This book weaves a heart-rending story of a young girl, Trisha, who faces challenges in her learning. She has dyslexia, and none of the teaching staff at her school are able to pick this up. This challenge makes our young protagonist a target for name-calling and bullying. And, unlike other children, when Trisha welcomes the chance to move to another city and start over at a new school, her hopes are met with despair, as she painfully navigates yet another school system stuffed with bullies and teaching staff who do not seem to care. Until of course she meets Mr. Falker. Mr. Falker, like a lot of teachers these days who get into teaching despite its hardships, is the teacher who makes a difference in this girl’s life. He takes a gamble on her and his gamble pays off, leading to a moment, brilliantly narrated with emotion, that changes Trisha’s life forever. Based on a true story, this narrative is packed with feel-goods.

Perfect for  grades 3-6, and abounding in themes of gratitude, compassion, bullying awareness, self-confidence issues in children, learning challenges and their effects, this book should really be read to every child out there. If nothing else, it lets children know that they are not alone in their struggles, and that they can rely on that one teacher to make a difference in their lives.


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