As soon as I walked into the lecture hall, I could tell today was something different. For one thing, I couldn’t get a seat despite being 5 minutes early. Whoever was speaking today must be greatly esteemed. As I scanned the heads of students and guests, my eyes happened upon the wonderful surprise positioned on the table. Filled with books that I had loved as a child, the table peeked my curiosity. Who was the speaker? And where shall I sit? Hastily, I searched for a seat and opened my notebook with bursting eagerness.
Dr. Mary Anne Prater was a woman of love and devotion. Her speech, rightly titled “A Portrait of Dolly Gray,’ was a beautiful and perceptive lecture regarding literature’s position of disabilities. She began her lecture by illustrating her own journey and the source of her passion for this topic. As a child, Dr. Prater was not an avid reader. With a smile on her face, Dr. Prater described herself as a “late bloomer” having discovered her love for children’s book in college. Continuing her occupation, Dr. Mary Anne Prater used children’s literature as a special education teacher. Eventually, this love transformed into a professional decision to analyze characters with disabilities in children’s literature. With wisdom she relayed to her audience this adage: “Find something you really enjoy and then find a way to get paid for doing it.” Dr. Mary Anne Prater wholly enjoyed her work and this devotion helped inspire her work.
Dr. Mary Anne Prater emphasized the need for analysis in literature regarding disabilities. Why is the work important? As Dr. Prater explained, analysis can help to catalyze a change in attitude and general knowledge about the disabilities; it can be used to teach about disabilities. Dr. Prater intends to use her analysis as a way to ensure that accurate information regarding disabilities is promoted in society. Not only does the analysis allow those without to relate, but this work can also be used as a form of bibliotherapy by allowing those with disabilities to identify with a character who is experiencing much the same situations and emotions.