Friday, September 11, 2015

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

I know I’m only a year old and a fish to boot, but I have heard the expression “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”  From a fish perspective, this could not be a more uninviting cover, I mean white background with simple black lettering, and a pair of shoes.  I don’t even have feet and especially don’t dream of running.  My dreams primarily consist of large fingers chasing me around my bowl or swimming in the ocean with sharks.  The Library Ladies got this book in the library not too long ago, and I think Mrs. Edwards promoted it as a California Young Reader Medal (CYRM) book at one point.  When she talks about it now, she often brings up the plain cover and even admits to judging books by the cover herself!!  But apparently after she read it, she really ‘connected’ with the story… whatever that means.  This is what she says about The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.
Jessica is a junior in high school, and if someone asks her who she is, she will respond with, “I am a runner.”  Jessica isn’t just a runner though, she’s the best, and although she is only a junior, she has already captured the attention of several colleges.  On the way home from a huge meet at her school’s big rival, the bus is involved in a terrible accident.  A vehicle slammed into the side of the bus right where Jessica and one of her best friends was sitting.  Jessica woke up several days later to discover that she was missing a leg!  The accident not only left her an amputee, but she also found out that one of her teammates had been killed.
Jessica went into a shell; she didn’t want to talk to anyone and struggled to catch up in her classes.  She was even seated in ‘preferential’ places in her classes (the back of the room).  It was here that she gets to know Rosa, a girl in her math class who has cerebral palsy.  As Rosa and Jessica become friends, Jessica begins to realize that life isn’t all about running for her, and for some people it means something so much more.  Check out this incredible story of perseverance and friendship today!

This is a fantastic story to connect with any student who has something so important that it is part of their identity like sports, a hobby, playing music, creating art, or any number of things.  Students can connect because this story is so powerfully possible.  In addition to the empathy they may feel for the character at losing what defined her, students can also begin to have a greater understanding of the mental strain that people who face sudden amputations may have.  The author Wendelin Van Draanen also brings into the story cerebral palsy, which is a condition that very few students understand.  This trailer is one of the more powerful ones I have found; again, the music and connection to the book while providing just enough of a teaser for readers is well done.  
Works Cited
Book Trailer: The Running Dream. (2012, October 4). Retrieved from

“The Running Dream.”, 2012. JPEG file.

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