January 24, 2012

A Wrinkle In Time 50th Anniversary Celebration: Sharing the Book

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Newbery Awarding winning book A Wrinkle in Time.  Macmillan is celebrating in part by having 50 blogs talk about this book. 
 I was honored to be asked to participate! 
 I get the pleasure of writing about sharing this book.  

But first let me tell you about the amazing 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition.  

Isn't it pretty looking? I love it, and it's even prettier in person!

The 50th Anniversary Commemorative edition features:

       Frontispiece photo*†
       Photo scrapbook with approximately 10 photos*†
       Manuscript pages*†
       Letter from 1963 Caldecott winner, Ezra Jack Keats*†
       New introduction by Katherine Paterson, US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature  †
       New afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Voiklis including six never-before-seen photos †
       Murry-O’Keefe family tree with new artwork †
       Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery acceptance speech

* Unique to this edition                † never previously published

I have to say the manuscript pages that show her actual revision is the coolest thing ever, and I will be showing it to my students.  They need to see that even award winners revise!!!

Check out more about the celebration at the A Wrinkle in Time Facebook page

Now for my thoughts on sharing this book with middle schoolers.

I have to admit it - I had never read A Wrinkle in Time before a week ago.  Yup I was that reader, that teacher, that person! But I am so glad that I did read it finally! And really I'm glad I read it now, because I can relate to people who aren't sure they want to read it.  When I share it now I'm not sharing it from a memory of when I was 11 and read it.  I'm sharing from the hear and now.  And I can understand what might be holding them back and combat it head on! Reading it now gives me a way better understanding of how and where to share this story.  And believe me I will be sharing it a lot.

But can I tell you something about sharing this book - something even I fought in myself - be ready to fight a huge misconception!  Here's what happened when I told my 12 year old daughter (an avid reader) she should read it.

Me: Hey have you ever read A Wrinkle in Time?
Her: (nose wrinkled) No.
Me: Why not?
Her: I don't know.  It's old.  I don't like old books.
Me: But it doesn't seem old!
Her: But it is.
Me: But it doesn't seem like it was written 50 years ago!
Her: (rolling her eyes) I'll read it later.
Me: No read it now.

And at that point the conversation ended because I, mom, had pushed it too much.  But what I wanted you to see was what could happen when sharing this book with middle schoolers. They see it as "old". It'll be dated.  It'll sound silly because it was written so long ago. They all want the popular "now" book.  They don't think they want an old book - You've got to make them rethink that! You've got to! To help you I've come up with a list. 

So here's my "Top Ten Ways to Change Their Minds".

10.  It never says the year! So it could be RIGHT NOW!
  9.  What? 50 years? No, no, no. 50 TEARS! It brought tears to my eyes.  You'll love it too!
  8.  Time travel and sci fi are becoming popular now! This is soooooo that AND MORE!
  7.  It has none of that annoying slang that dates it! Nothing is "groovy".  There are no "dudes". And "rad" is nowhere to be found!
  6.  Although Madeleine L'Engle calls them companion books - it's part of a series and you finally get to see what happens to the characters when they grow up! Tell me the last book series that happened in!  
  5.  THE POWER OF LOVE. Does that EVER go out of style????
  4.  Ever feel like you don't fit in? Have I got the girl for you! Meg is amazing.
  3.  Ok so yes it's 50 years old but how can something that has been around that long be wrong???
  2. Think of how impressed your parents and teachers will be when they hear you've read it!
  1. Aw just skip all that and READ IT ALOUD TO THEM!

Ok all the joking aside.  You will have to fight some bias against "old" books when recommending this one but fight tooth and nail to get them to pick it up. I haven't EVER read a book written that long ago and been blown away by the timelessness of it.  It could've been published just this year.  How was Madeleine L'Engle able to write something that timeless??? Ah.Maze.Ing. Then there's Meg! What a great role model for girls.  How did she know that girls would continue to need strong role models in their reading?  Meg is full of faults, but they don't hold her back and she does what needs to be done in the face of all fear! You go girl!

Now I also have to comment on sharing this book with adults
I asked many many teachers I work with if they had read this book.  Many said no.  And here is my theory as to why.  You know those books we're suppose to read? Like Of Mice and Men or To Kill a Mockingbird (both FANTASTIC books)  - the ones we're "suppose" to read.  They are classics.  They are to make us think.  They are to be taken seriously. Those books - well, we shy away from that sometimes.  Like the kids we want fun!

Tell an adult this:  Yes you'll think. Read it.  Yes it's different than anything else you've read.  Read it! Do you have a family you love?  Read it! Do you like to see good win? Read it.  Do want a story that shows you hope? Read it!!!! With adults you can be more direct :)

So that's how I'd share this book that I'm thankful to have finally read.  It will be in my hands a lot as I'm handing it to a new generation of students that need to go with Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace.  That need to see Meg's strength and make her their hero. Some won't get it.  But some will - and it's those kids who probably need this story the most.  So because I know those kids are out there, it will a book I'll share over and over.  (but I'm sure I'll need my top 10 list!)


  1. LOL...love your number one suggestion. I showed my book club kids the Newberry in, er, 60 seconds I think it was? Done by a group of kids and oh my soooo funny and great and now that you've read the book, you'll find it even funnier. Anyhow, it made them want to read it, too!

    I want to get this anniversary edition. It is pretty!

  2. Totally agree! This is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. Love your suggestions.

  3. A Wrinkle in Time was my ALL TIME FAVORITE book in sixth grade. Perhaps it's time for a reread!

  4. How fun! I love your sharing post. I didn't read it until a few years ago either, so it happens and it's ok :)

  5. What a great blog post! The anniversary edition looks terrific. I first read WRINKLE IN TIME as an adult probably about 20 years ago and LOVED it. I'll have to see if the seventh-grade girls in the private creative writing class I teach have read it yet. If not, I'm going to try #1 and read a bit of it out loud to them. :-)

  6. I explicitly remember reading this book in elementary or middle school, but I can't remember what happened in it! I remember thinking the characters are cool, but that's about it. I think I'm going to have to read it again.