Thank you, Mr. Falker is written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco and read by Jane Kaczmarek. Little Trisha is overjoyed at the thought of starting school and learning how to read. But right from the start, when she tries to read, all the letters and numbers just get jumbled up. Her classmates make matters worse by calling her “dummy” and “toad.”
Hi, I’m Jane has Merrick. Welcome to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, book pals. Everybody knows that honey is delicious and t, but can you imagine pouring it on a book? Oh, Patricia *******, o-chem. She’s the author and illustrator of a wonderful book called Thank you, Mr. Faulkner. She begins with a special introduction, a prologue. Grab upheld the jar of honey so that all the family could see. Then he dipped a ladle into it and drizzled honey on the cover of a small book. The little girl had just turned five. Stand up little one. He could I did this for your mother, your uncles, your older brother, and now you then he handed the book to her, taste. She dipped her finger into the honey and put it into her mouth. What does that taste? The grandma asked. The little girl answered. Sweet than all of the family said in a single voice. Yes. And so is knowledge. But knowledge is like the b that made that Sweet Honey. You have to chase it through the pages of a book. The little girl knew that the promise to read was that last hers. Soon she was going to learn to read. Trisha, the littlest girl in the family, grew up loving books. Her school teacher, mother read to her every night. Her red-headed brother brought his books home from school and shared them. And whenever she visited the family farm, her grandfather and grandmother read to her by the stone fireplace. When she turned five and went to kindergarten. Most of all, she hoped to read each day she saw the kids in the first grade across the whole reading. And before the year was over, some of the kids in her own class began to read, but not Trisha. Still, she loved being at school because she could draw. The other kids, would crowd around her and watch her do her magic with the Kranz. In first grade, you’ll learn to read. Her brother said. In first grade, teacher sat in a circle with the other kids. They were all holding our neighborhood. Their first reader sounding out letters and words. They said, but boy, oh boy. And look, look, look, look. The teacher smiled at them when they put all the sounds together and got a word, right. But when Trisha looked at the page, I’ll she saw were wiggling shapes. And when she tried to sound out words the other kids laughed at, or Trisha, what are you looking at in that book? They’d say Reading. She’d say back to them. But her teacher would move on to the next person. Always when it was her turn to read, her teacher had to help her with every single word. And while the other kids moved up into the second reader, into the third reader, She state alone in our neighborhood. Trisha began to feel different. She began to feel dumb. The harder words got for the little girl, the more and more times she spent drawing, how she loved to draw, or just sitting and dreaming, or when she could going for walks with her grandmother. One summer day, she and her grandma were walking together in a small woods behind their farm. It was Twilight. The air was sweet and warm. Fireflies were just coming up from the grasses. As they walked. Tricia said, Grandma, do you think I’m different? Of course, her grandmother answered. To be different is the miracle of life. You see all those little fireflies. Everyone is different. Do you think I’m smart? Tissue didn’t feel smart. Her grandma hugged her. You are the smartest, quickest, dearest a little thing ever. Right then the little girl felt safe and her grandma has arms. Reading didn’t matter so much. Trisha, grandma used to say that the stars were holes in the sky. They were the light of heaven coming from the other side. And she used to say that someday she would be on the other side where the light comes from. One evening, they lie on the grass together, uncounted the lights from heaven. You know, her grandmother said, all of us will go there someday. Hang onto the grass, or you’ll left, right off the ground. And there you’ll be. They laughed and they both hung onto the grass. That it was not long after that night that her grandmother must have let go of the grass because she went to where the lights were on the other side. And that long after that trust, his grandpa let go of the grass to school, seemed harder and harder now, reading was just plain torture. When swell and rhetor pager, Tommy Bob read his page. They read so easily that Tricia would wash the tops of their heads to see if something was happening to their headset wasn’t happening to hers. And numbers were the hardest thing of all to read. She never added anything right? Line the numbers up before you add them. The teacher would say, but when Trisha try the numbers look like a stack of blocks wobbly and ready to fall. She just knew she was dumb. Than one day her mother announced she had gotten a teaching job in California a long way from the family farm and Michigan. Even though her grandma and grandpa were gone, the little girl didn’t want to move. Maybe though, the teachers and kids and her new school, we didn’t know how dumb she was. She and her mother and brother moved across the country in a two tone 940 nine Plymouth and took five days. But at the new school, it was the same. When she tried to read, she stumbled over words. The cat ran. She was reading like a baby in the third grade. And when her teacher read along with them and called on Trisha for an answer, she gave the wrong answer every time. Hey, dummy. Avoid Kaltura on the playground. How come you’re so dumb. Other kids stood near him and they laughed. Tricia could feel the tears burning in her eyes. How she longed to go back to her grandparents farm and Michigan. Now Trisha wanted to go to school less and less. I have a sore throat. She’d say to her mother or I have a stomach ache. She dreamed more and more and drew more and more. And she hated, hated, hated school. Then when Trisha started fifth grade, the school was all abuzz. There was a new teacher. He was tall and elegant. Everybody logged it’s striped coat, gray pants. He were the neatest close. All the usual teacher’s pets gathered around him. Steven, Joe and Alice, Marie, Davey, and Michael Lee. But right from the start, it didn’t seem to matter to Mr. Faulkner which kids were the cutest are the smartest, they’re the best at anything. Mr. Falcon would stand behind Trisha whenever she was drawing and whisper, this is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Do you know how talented you are? When he said this? Even the kids who teased, who would turn around in their seats and look at our drawings. But they still laughed whenever she gave the wrong answer. Then one day she had to stand up and read, which she hated. She was stumbling through a page and Charlotte’s Web, and the page was going all fuzzy. And the kids began to laugh out loud. Mr. Faulkner, in his plaid jacket and butterfly tie said stop. Are all of you so perfect that you can look at another person and find fault with her. That was the last day anybody laughed out loud or made fun of her? I’ll accept Eric. He sat behind Trisha for two whole years, but he seemed almost to hate her. Trisha didn’t know why. He waited by the door of the classroom for any pulled her hair. He waited for on the playground, leaned in her face and colder towed. She was afraid to turn any corner for fear, Eric would be there. She felt completely alone. The only time she was really happy was when she was around Mr. Faulkner. He letter erase the blackboards. Only the best students got to do that. He patted around the back whenever she got something right. And he looked hard and mean at any kid who teased her. But the nicer Mr. Faulkner was to Tricia. The worse Eric treated her, he got all the other kids to wait for her on the playground or in the cafeteria, or even in the bathroom. And to jump out and color stupid or ugly. And Tricia began to believe them. She discovered that if she has to go to the bathroom just before recess, she could hide under the inside stairwell during the free time and not have to go outside at all. In that dark place. She felt completely. But one day at recess, Eric followed her to her secret hiding place. How do you become a mole? Laughed, and he pulled her out into the hall and he danced around or dumbbell? Dumbbell and Maggie all dumbbell. Just buried her head and her arms. She curled up into a ball. Suddenly she heard footsteps. It was Mr. Faulkner. He marched Eric down to the office. When he came back, he found Tricia. I don’t think you have to worry about that boy again, he said softly. What was he teasing you about little one? I don’t know. Trisha shrugged. Trisha was Sure Mr. Faulkner believed that she could read. She had learned to memorize what the kid next to her was reading, or she’d wait for Mr. Faulkner to help her with a sentence, then she’d say the same thing that he did. Good. He would say. Than one day. Mr. Faulkner asked her to stay after school and help wash the blackboards. You put on music and brought out little sandwiches as they worked and talked. All at once. He said, Let’s play a game. I’ll shout out letters. You write them on the board with a wet sponge as quickly as you can? A he shouted, she wiped a watery a. Eight he shouted, and she made a watery 8143. D. M. Q he shouted out. He shouted out many, many letters and numbers that he walked up behind her. And together they looked at the board. It was a watery mess. Trisha knew that none of the letters or numbers looked like they should. She through the sponge down and tried to run. But Mr. Fogg are caught her arm and sank to his knees in front of her. You poor Papi, he said, Do you think you’re dumb? Don’t you? How awful for you to be so lonely and afraid. She sopped. But a little one, don’t you understand? You don’t see letters or numbers the way other people do. And you’ve gotten through school all this time and fooled many, many good teachers. He smiled at her that to cunning and smartness and such, such bravery. Then he stood up and finished washing the board. We’re going to change all that girl. You’re going to read. I promise you that. Now, almost every day after school, she met with Mr. Faulkner and Ms. Plessy, a reading teacher. They did a lot of things she didn’t even understand. At first, she made circles and sand and then big sponge letters on the Blackboard going from left to right, left to right. Another day they flicked letters on a screen and Tricia shout them out loud. Still other days she worked with wooden blocks and built work. Letters, letters, letters, words, words, words, always sounding them out. And that felt good. But though she’d read words, she hadn’t read a whole sentence. And deep down, she still felt down. And then one spring day had had been three months or four months since they started. Mr. Faulkner put a book in front of her. She’d never seen it before. He picked a paragraph in the middle of a page and pointed at it almost as if it were magic or if a light or it into her brain. The words and sentences started to take shape on the page as they never had before. She marched them off to slowly. She read a sentence, then another and another. And finally she’d read a paragraph and she understood the whole thing. She didn’t notice that Mr. Faulkner and Ms. Plessy had tears in their eyes. And that night, Trisha ran home without stopping to catch her breath. She bounded up the front steps through open her front door, and ran through the dining room to the kitchen. She climbed up on the cupboard and grabbed a jar of honey. Then she went into the living room and found the book on a shelf. The very book that her grandpa had shown her so many years ago. She spooned honey on the cover and tasted the sweetness. And said to herself, the honey is sweet. And so is knowledge. But knowledge is like the being who made the honey. It has to be chased through the pages of a book. Then she held the book, honey and all close to her chest. She could feel tears rolled down her cheeks, but they weren’t tears of sadness. She was happy. So very happy. Now that’s the end of the story. But it’s not the end of a book. The author has a little surprise for us. Listen. The rest of the year became an odyssey of discovery and adventure for the little girl. She learned to love school. I know because that little girl with me, patricia Placko. I saw Mr. Faulkner again some 30 years later at a wedding. I walked up to him and introduced myself. At first, he had difficulty placing me when I told him who I was and how he had changed my life so many years ago. He hugged me and asked me what I did for a living. Why, Mr. Faulkner? I answered, I make books for children. Thank you, Mr. Fox. Thank you. And thank you for listening. (As provided by SchoolTube video transcript.)
Suggested Grade Level: 3-4
The standards listed below are for the 3rd and 4th grades but can easily be modified for other grades.
CCSS.SL.3.1, CCSS.SL.3.2, CCSS.SL.4.1, CCSS.SL.4.2, CCSS.SL.3.1, CCSS.SL.3.2, CCSS.SL.4 .1, CCSS.SL.4.2, CCSS.RL.3.1, CCSS.RL.3.2, CCSS.RL.3.3, CCSS.RL.4.1, CCSS.RL.4.2, CCSS.RL.4.3, CCSS.RL.3.1, CCSS.RL.4.1, CCSS.W.3.3, CCSS.W.4.3
View the activity guide here: mrfalker
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