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Wilma Unlimited

Last updated Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: David Diaz
Date of Publication: 1996
ISBN: 0152012672
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Mar. 2005

Synopsis: (from the publisher) One of the most energetic kids in the town of Clarksville, Tenessee, Wilma loves to run and laugh and play with her nineteen older brothers and sisters. But before she's five years old, she gets very sick, and the doctor's news is not good: polio has paralyzed her left leg. Everyone says that Wilma will never walk again. Wilma refuses to believe it. Not only will she walk again, she vows, she'll run. It takes years. It takes hard work. But at last she does run -- across the basketball court, around the track, and eventually, all the way to the Olympic Games.
Wilma Rudolph's triumphant journey is the subject of Kathleen Krull's Wilma Unlimited, a true sory dramatically visualized in David Diaz's striking illustrations.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What does it mean to defy the odds? What is an obstacle or hurdle? Have you ever had to get past one?
•  Do you know who Wilma Rudolph is? Based on the cover, what do you think she does?
•  Do you know any big families with lots of children? Are they different than families with few children?
•  Have you ever watched the Olympics on tv? What did you think about it? Do you think you could be a part of it?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever wanted to do something, but couldn't? What did you do? How would it feel to be really sick and not be able to go to school for a really long time? What would you miss?
•  What is the power of concentration? Ever heard the phrase, "if you put your mind to it, you can do anything?" What does that mean?
•  How do you think Wilma felt when she walked into church on her own? When she won her first race? What made her strong enough to do those things?
•  How many gold medals did Wilma win? How do you think that made her feel? How would it make you feel?
•  Wilma Rudolph became a second grade teacher after she retired from running. If you became famous, what would you do?

Craft ideas:
•  Design a medal for yourself that represents an achievement you?ve made. (Bring ahead option: ribbons or string to hang the medal around their neck). Design another for your mom or another woman to thank them for something they?ve done.
•  Bring ahead option: bring pictures of women in sports. Make a collage with pictures or torn paper of things you would like to excel doing.

Special activities:
•  Have a seated relay race. The children pass an object around a course while seated. The winning team should spread out more, and play again.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!