By Kirsten Reitan, WATG Board Member and GT Resource Teacher
Around this time of year, I start getting requests for summer reading lists. Even before I knew about articles written and research done on the benefits of reading the Classics (see Lisa Van Gemert’s piece http://www.giftedguru.com/8-benefits-reading-classic-literature/ ), I would tell parents and kids that reading classic literature is a great challenge. Children with advanced reading skills need appropriately challenging material, but that often comes with content that is not particularly suited for younger readers. Children’s classics solve that problem, as books written decades ago are filled with vocabulary and complicated syntax. Writers from other centuries (for example, The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling) used language so differently than we do now that young readers really need to work at their comprehension.
Consequently, I was thrilled to learn of the movie re-make of A Wrinkle in Time, hoping it sparks a whole new following for the author. Better yet, I learned of a new biography of Madeline L’Engle written for young readers by her granddaughters!
Becoming Madeline is Madeline’s story. Jones Voiklis and Roy use their grandmother’s journals, family letters and photographs to tell about Madeline’s growing-up years. We learn that Madeline was often left alone and found her company in books. We see her struggle through classes where her teachers did not recognize her strengths - there are photos of her actual report cards where teachers’ comments are plain to see! Through it all she persevered and believed that she could be a writer.
The authors themselves are in literary professions and they have constructed a solid biography of their grandmother. This book would be a wonderful gift for a gifted reader or young writer. There is much to discover about Madeline L’Engle, and gifted kids can find good company with an author that understands their struggles.