Like most avid readers, I have a stack of books that I keep on my nightstand, some pop culture fiction, some non-fiction, some “work” related books on dyslexia. Recently, I was chatting with a good friend and she recommended the book, “Fish in a Tree” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. I excitedly told her that it was already on my stack; her response was move it to the top.
Because this friend is not one to make such bold assertions often, I heeded the advice and began reading it that evening. About a 6th grade girl who has struggled her entire life with dyslexia, Fish in a Tree is a stunning account of what these children face every day from their perspective. As I read this touching, heart wrenching account, I thought about my own child and how, until we got her the help she needed and taught her to own and be proud of who she is, she felt this way EVERY DAY. I finally understood at a visceral level her heartbreak and frustration.
The passage that brought me to tears is one where Ally explains how she feels to a friend, “Imagine if every single time you got on your bike, you had to worry that the wheels would come off. And every time you ride, they do. But you still have to ride. Every day. And then you have to watch everyone watch you as the bike goes to pieces underneath you. With everyone thinking that it’s your fault and you’re the worst bike rider in the world.” Just wow.
To think that this is what so many of our children face, when the rest of us simply get on our bikes and ride away. To think of the times that I was one of those people who stood by and watched as my daughter’s wheels came off or of all the conferences I had with teachers who also just watched. It makes me continue to be grateful to all of those teachers and friends who didn’t just stand by but instead helped her up, grabbed a tool and put her bike back together and eventually handed her the tools and taught her how.
It is why I want to unite these same powerful, gifted adults with Sliding Doors so that it is more than just my child who has the tools. Together we can all move from the sidelines and pick up those pieces so that together we can not only give those children what they need but also give our society a chance to see their brilliance and to benefit from it.
Please, read this book. When you do, I hope that you are inspired to pick up a tool and join the fight!