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A Wrinkle in Time

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    A Wrinkle in Time

    Good literature promotes insights into the frailties of the human condition while offering redemptive hope, even for our special-needs children. One of my son's favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, is a perfect example. My son, a young man with autism, learning disabilities, and other significant special needs, sometimes wonders about his usefulness in the world; but when he read this book, he urged me to read it too. I finally did.

    The main character, a teenage girl named Meg, is bright in mathematics but “different” in so many other ways that she has social difficulties and gets into trouble at school. “I'm a delinquent,” Meg concludes grimly. She grapples with thoughts that waver from honesty to self-pity. “I think I'm a biological mistake.” “I hate being an oddball.” “I try to pretend, but it isn't any help....”

    Her mother tells her, “Oh, my darling.... Your development has to go at its own pace. It just doesn't happen to go at the usual pace.” When faced with a challenge, the girl hears comfort as from an angel, “My child, do not despair. Do you think we would have brought you here if there were no hope? We are asking you to do a difficult thing, but we are confident that you can do it.”

    The reader finds sprinkled throughout the book wisdom from the Holy Scriptures and quotations in foreign languages, even Latin. “Ab honesto virum bonum nihil deterret.” (Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable. Seneca.) The conclusion of A Wrinkle in Time reveals the powerful means that finally compels Meg outside of her own self-pity and into loving courage.

    Good books can be a strong support for our special-needs children, as our children identify with struggling characters. Picture books for younger or lower-functioning children can serve in similar ways. As Meg's friend Calvin exclaims in A Wrinkle in Time after meeting Meg and her family, “Isn't it wonderful? …. I'm not alone any more! Do you realize what that means to me?”

    If you have favorite books for older or younger children, please suggest them. We'll consider adding the books to our special-needs classical curriculum packages. If you have a younger or lower-functioning special-needs child, consider Frederick by Leo Lionni. The main character is a little mouse who cannot help his family in the usual ways. Instead, he shares his small but unique gifts. This is one of my daughter's new favorites.

    For comprehensive literature lists categorized by the child's ability and the area of study, see "Details for Implementation," chapter nine in Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child.


    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
    Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith