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Are you the quickest, fastest person you know? If not who is? Is there someone faster than you?
I’m not trying to give you a complex or anything, we just have to get in the right headspace when we talk about Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic Gold medalist.
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Coretta Scott King winner Frank Morrison, is a charming story about wanting to be the fastest kid in Clarksville. It’s also about determination, dreams, and the friends we meet along the way.
It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about ONE thing: Wilma Rudolph. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. You see, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma was.
Alta knows that it doesn’t matter if your shoes have holes, Wilma’s did too. But what happens when a new girl shows up with her shiny new running shoes? Yes this girl has shoes to strut in and shoes to run in. These shoes are just like “Wilma’s.” But Alta knows that it’s not shoes that make one fast, it’s the feet. So what happens when the said “new girl” challenges Alta to a race? Will Alta still remain the fastest kid in Clarksville?
“Never Underestimate the Power of Dreams and the Influence of the Human Spirit.”
― Wilma Rudolph
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville has a powerful message and that is to run after your dreams. It is beautifully told and illustrated. I love the lay-out of the book and the fun fonts that are used. Story, illustrations, and graphic design work in tandem to create one keeper of a book. This book is slated to become a classic! It’s so well done.
This book left me wanting to know a little bit more about Wilma Rudolph. I knew she was an Olympic runner but more than that I didn’t know. What a remarkable person.
Wilma Rudoph was considered the fastest woman in the world during the 1960’s. She competed in the 1956 and 1960 olympic games in the 100, 200 meter dash, and the 4×100 relay race. She became a famous household name because of her accomplishments but is what is truly remarkable are the great hardships she encountered growing up to get to this point.
Wilma was one of 22 children, and raised in a family that didn’t have much money. Wilma was a very sick child and had to wear a leg brace after she was diagnosed with polio. Doctors felt she would never walk without it. But Wilma had other ideas. She exercised and worked her leg constantly for years until she could not only stand and walk on her leg but run. Boy could she run.
There was another issue facing Wilma and her family as well. Wilma grew up in Clarksville Tennessee which was a completely segregated town. There were separate stores, schools, doctors, restaurants and restrooms for black and white people. Wilma was a catalyst for ending segregation in Clarksville Tennessee. She did it with kindness, and strength.
After Wilma won at the Olympics, Clarksville wanted to welcome their hero home by honoring her with a parade and banquet. Wilma said she would not attend the festivities unless it was completely integrated and opened to all. The town and organizers agreed. Wilma’s Olympic celebration was the first desegregate event for blacks and whites in Clarksville.
Something To Do
- Running in Place
On the very first page of the story we find Alta running in place as fast as she can. How fast can you run in place? Grab a stop watch or using a stop watch on a cell phone see how quickly you can count to hundred while running in place. The one with the quickest time is the winner.
Now let’s go on to build some fun running skills.
2. Roll a Hula-Hoop
This challenge can be done alone or done as a race between two people or even as a relay race between two larger teams.
- Solo:If you’re running solo, you’ll need a hula hoop, some duck tape to create a starting line and a finish line. Create a finish line 20 feet away. You’ll want someone to time you as you run from the starting line to the finish line while rolling the hula hoop out in front.
- Duo:If you’re running this race as a pair, you’ll need everything as in the Solo race. Have someone start the race by saying “Go”. The first person to the finish line wins. Add a little variety by running to the finish line and back.
- Team:For this race you’ll need two hula hoops. Divide your team in half. One half stays at the starting line and the other half goes to the finish line. The first child on each team runs towards the finish line while rolling the hula hoop out in front. Once they reach the finish line, the child rolling the hula hoop passes it to the team who then runs and rolls the hula hoop towards the starting line. The first team to complete the relay race wins.
3. The Running Hop
Take 10 boxes, they can be various sizes or shoe boxes. You just want to make sure a child can jump or hop over them. Photo storage boxes work nicely as do shoe boxes.
Mark a start and finish line 20 feet apart. If running in teams you’ll need to set up two separate racing lanes with 5 boxes each in them. If running solo use all 10 boxes and move the finish line out to 40 feet.
Place the boxes equal distances apart.
Forming two teams each team runs and jumps over the boxes to the finish line. On the way back they run and hop over the boxes until they reach their team-mate and tag them. The team that finishes first wins.
If doing this as a solo race time the runner on how long it takes them to finish the running course.
These running games are sure to make everyone quicker runners. Hopefully with a little practice you’ll become the quickest runner ever. Maybe we’ll even see you running in the Olympics one day. In any case you might as well have loads of fun while trying to get there. Enjoy!
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