SUMMIT, NJ - Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of numerous best-selling children's books, brought an inspirational message to Summit Elementary School students during assemblies at each school.
Polacco, who said her whole life has "been spent listening to stories," delivered an uplifting message of hope, inclusiveness, and dreaming big. She told a rapt audience the tale of Meteor!, published in 1987, where a piece of celestial rock -- a "falling star" -- lands near her childhood home in Michigan.
Polacco even brought a piece of the "magic rock" so that students could touch it and make three wishes. Reinforcing the themes of her talk, she put three boundaries on their wishes:
- They could not wish for money
- The wish could not ask to change others
- They could not wish for something that could be purchased with money... like toys.
She asked the students, "What have you done for someone else today?" Relating to the social and cultural differences that children encounter, she told the audience that, "You are all walking miracles."
Polacco's personal story is one of overcoming a childhood of learning disabilities. She struggled in school because she could not read until age 14, and said, "My greatest nightmare was was when she was made to read aloud in front of her class."
Diagnosed with dyslexia, she expressed herself through art. She related the pain of being teased and laughed at by schoolmates, and implored the children to, "please not laugh at others' difficulties."
Polacco relayed that each child's uniqueness is their strength. "Stick out your chest." she said. "Every one of you is gifted, we just do not open our gifts all at the same time."