A mother and daughter face the challenges of learning disabilities in this heartfelt, uplifting story.
Rosemary Enrico watches her daughter trudge to and from school weighed down by a backpack stuffed with books she can't read. Third grade homework consumes hours. Parked on a folding chair next to Dawn’s desk, Rosemary reads assignments aloud and copes with Sammy’s jealousy.
Why can’t Dawn read? The teachers offer Rosemary reassurance, not answers. They say Dawn’s every bit as bright as Kurt who has honor roll certificates galore. Certain Dawn will read when she's ready, Frank tells Rosemary her constant worrying undermines their daughter. Worse yet, he opposes the diagnostic testing Dawn needs.
Early in September, when a substitute gives a review spelling test, Dawn discovers she's even dumber than she thought. Every single word is wrong. That evening, when homework crowds out another bedtime bath, Dawn tells Rosemary she wants to crawl back inside her belly and be born smart.
Janet Altman grew up before the field of learning disabilities existed. The kindergarten teacher argued against promoting her to first grade. Altman’s mother refused to hold her back. From first grade through high school and college, Altman excelled in certain subjects. In others, no matter how hard she tried, she floundered and fell behind. Years of such bewildering experiences had an emotional impact.
How children learn and, more importantly, how to help those who aren’t learning like their classmates fascinated Altman. She graduated from college and taught children with a variety of difficulties in the Chicago suburbs. After earning her master’s degree, she embarked on a career as a learning disabilities clinician.
Altman recognized significant differences between her young son's strengths and weaknesses. He received learning disabilities remediation in their neighborhood public school from kindergarten through fourth grade, when he no longer needed the specialist's expertise.