"I began elementary school in the mid 1940’s, graduated from high school in 1957. In all that time, the word Dyslexia was never used nor did anyone try to find out why it was so hard for me to read. Little was understood about learning disabilities or a child like me that was eager to learn, and was trying his best. I drew great satisfaction from making pictures and was acutely aware of how drawing centered my being, enabling me to focus. This creative activity bolstered my self-esteem. Because my challenges were not recognized or considered, this learning disability was rendered mute. Young Jerry found ways of hiding my difficulties. I was very good at it. However, I was never a poor student by finding inventive ways to participate in classroom instructions. As a matter of fact, I became an excellent student, graduating from elementary school with honors.Jerry Pinkney speaks to 2010 National Book Festival
Upon graduating from high school, I was awarded a complete scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, now known as The University of the Arts. These accomplishments took great skills. It took a large amount of energy to navigate each and everyday, wondering when that time would come when I would be called upon to write a note or read out loud. Imagine having to constantly find new ways to slip out of those situations.
I perfected the craft of drawing, and learned on that talent. Drawing shouldered the weight of my deficiency. I was putting marks on paper to learn and make peace with myself. Howbeit the act of writing a note is still a challenge. Yet, I love to read, no matter how slowly.
Today, adapting classic stories for children’s books, and writing articles for various publications has become my new creative frontier.
For the young person who is struggling in school, never forget there are many different ways to learn. Be curious. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be disappointed when making mistakes. You will discover your own unique way of understanding the things being taught. Learn from mistakes. Everything that happens to you will frame who you are, and who you will become. Your path to success will follow."
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