Friday, April 12, 2019

A to Z: Letters to Dead Writers: Helen Keller

This month I'm writing one post for each letter of the alphabet, all on the theme of "Letters to Dead Writers." You can see my theme reveal post here and learn more about the blogging challenge here.

Today's writer is Helen Keller

Dear Ms. Keller,

I first heard of you when I was in second grade. We were learning about biography, and yours was one of the names on a list of people we could pick to write a research project about.

When I took the list home and asked my mom and dad about the people on it, I learned that you were deaf and blind, but you had become world famous as a writer and speaker. It was clear that my parents thought you were amazing, so I chose you for my project.

I wasn't really ready to read your autobiography yet, since I was only seven, so I read some children's books about you and watched the movie The Miracle Worker with my mom. The part of your story that struck me at the time was the part about the power of language. You'd always been a bright person full of ideas, but because illness had robbed you of language, you couldn't communicate. Once you learned how, the transformation was as good as any enchantment in a fairy tale.

Around this same time was when I decided for sure that I would be a teacher (and I'm a teacher today, so obviously the idea stuck!). I wanted to be that person who made that connection and difference for someone. Anne Sullivan is certainly an inspiration for the difference one person can make in the life of another.

Sometime, when I was older, I read your autobiographies, The Story of My Life and The World I Live In, as well as Teacher and some of your Journals. I came to admire you all the more for your deep thoughtfulness and your advocacy for the rights of others: women, workers, people with disabilities. You had such a way with words, and such strong opinions.

I admire you still today, for the courage of your convictions and your use of your fame to try and make a difference in the world. I hope someday the world rises to your vision of what it could be.


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