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Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  2,763 ratings  ·  439 reviews
Ten years ago, in a riveting story of courage and hope, Peg Kehret wrote of the months she spent in a hospital when she was 12. The book deeply touched readers of all ages and received many awards and honors. This anniversary edition includes an updated and extended Epilogue, 12 pages of new photos, and a new section about polio.
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Albert Whitman & Company (first published January 1st 1996)
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Night of the Twisters by Ivy RuckmanSmall Steps by Peg KehretFrindle by Andrew ClementsLunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. KrosoczkaThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
2015 Bluestem Nominees
2nd out of 20 books — 6 voters
Boy by Roald DahlRed Scarf Girl by Ji-li JiangSmall Steps by Peg KehretGuts by Gary PaulsenKnots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli
Autobiographies for Kids
3rd out of 22 books — 10 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ms. Foley
Kids have been telling me this was their favorite book for years so I finally picked it up and read it. I was not disappointed--it was a wonderful and inspiration story, but not too sappy. She describes her feelings very realistically and she's not always nice about it!
Elaine
What a beautiful story! My grandmother was born in 1901 and had polio as a young teen (we think that's the right age). Her father was a doctor and had heard about some unorthodox treatments that were being done for polio victims and tried them on her. They involved heat and massage, so I am now assuming these were the Sister Kenny treatments that the author referred to. My grandmother made a full recovery. I'm fascinated that my great grandfather found out about these treatments so early and use ...more
Mary
it was the best book ever
Beth Nieman
What a fantastic book. I just wish it had a recent copyright so I could recommend it for LOE! I literally could not put it down. Kehret writes in a straightforward and entertaining manner about her sudden polio symptons at age 13, her trip to the emergency room, and the experience of waking up paralyzed.

However, the story doesn't end there--in fact, it's just the beginning. She meets wonderful doctors, nurses and has four roommates, all girls, her own age, and they go through therapy together,
...more
Faith K
Although I haven't read to much of this book I'm in Love with it! It goes in to so much detail and it is definitely character driven. This book tells the story of a girl who obviously got polio. It tells a out her struggles and how she reacts to them. She is so upset and she is super scared. Who wouldn't? She has two different types of polio, one that causes her to not be able to move her arms and legs and one that causes her not to breath very easily.if I was her I would be screaming but she is ...more
Kasey H
February 4, 2013

I am currently reading Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, by Peg Kehret. I think that Peg Kehret is so smart to write a story about herself! From the title- it looks like this book is about the year Peg Kehret got Polio. There is no paragraph or sentence that I don't like! I can't stop reading it! Every sentence is rich with descriptive words, action verbs, and everything that makes a sentence good. Actions and nouns, and descriptions- OH MY! You get my point!
Most people have
...more
Melissa K.
"P-O-L-I-O" Those were the words that Peg and her parents never expected. I don't think you can expect it to.
It all started one afternoon when Peg was noticing a hot fever (103 degress) and muscle cramps. When she went to the doctor, they assumed that she had the flu. The fever contiued for a couple of days. When she woke up the next morning, she was paralyzed! The doctor took Peg to the hospital. There, they diagnosed her with polio, but not just one, three types, bulbar, spinal, and respirator
...more
Sofia A.
1:17:13

I am currently reading this awesome good book. This book is about a 12 year old girl who got three types of Polio. She had to race to the hospital because it was serious. I once had to go to the hospital because I pnemonia. I was only in Kindergarten. In the story she said she had to move to a different hospital because the first hospital could not handle this really bad sickness. At first she could not breathe by herself so she had to use an iron lung. In the book she said that when you
...more
Sarah
This woman's optimism is contagious, loved it. Especially the epilogue. I realized I never really new much about polio- just the bare basics. Excellent book for pre-teens to be reading especially when you consider some of the other "literature" available to them.
Handan
Plot
In the late 1940s, a young girl rapidly develops polio. And not just one type, but two! This book recounts her story and the long recovery she underwent. It also sheds light on the conditions of treatment and disease before Dr. Salk invented the first vaccine.

My Thoughts
This was a truly eye-opening book. I thought I knew about polio, but what was in my brain was so vague, like measles or mumps or diptheria before I watched "Balto." I'm surprised I've never heard about Sister Kenny, or that "
...more
Nouara Y.
I am currently reading Small Steps by Peg Kehret. Small Steps is one of the best books I have ever read, it is about the author, Peg getting a disease called polio. Polio can be a deadly disease, but other cases of polio are different and you can get better within a year. Peg was diagnosed with polio at the age of 12, almost 13. She had to go to a hospital about 2 hours away from her house, the hospital was in Minneapolis and she lived in Austin. She had a hard time breathing so she had to be in ...more
Shruti S
This true story is about a girl named Peg and how her life changed when she got polio. This story starts out when Peg suddenly gets a spasm in her leg at school. In 1948 when this story is set, polio still can be a deadly disease.
This book showed me the differences between a realistic fiction and and true story written in the form of an autobiography. The book I am comparing this t is The Running Dream. Small Steps described snapshots of events from the writer's memory whereas Running Dream flo
...more
Maddie D
3RD RESPONSE:

I am currently reading Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. This book is by Peg Kehret and this story actually happened to her. So far it has been a great book because I love how Peg tries to overcome polio. This book is about Peg Kehret getting a major virus called polio. But what makes it worse is that she doesn't just have one type of polio, she has three kinds of polio. Peg is only in the seventh grade and now she is paralyzed from the neck down and can barely breathe or swallow.
...more
Langston Bealum
Small steps: The Year I Got Polio is a book about a girl who got polio in 1949. She was the only kid in all of Austin to get it that year. Normally I don't like autobiography, but this time I would recommend this to one of my friend In the end I really liked this book.
Suzanne
A fascinating story about a girl who contracts polio and completely recovers from it's devastating effects. I loved her detailed, day by day story.
Morgan
May 08, 2014 Morgan added it
I felt sad at the beginning of this book when Peg fell at school because she was really sick and she had to see a doctor. I also felt bad when she got polio and had to do exercises. If I got Polio I would probably feel really miserable and frustrated because easy things would be really difficult.
Savannah Flynn
I believe this is an amazing book. This has so much determination and strength in it i cant believe it really happened. In this book it said the authors purpose in writing this book was to tell about the year she had gotten polio and what it was like. I think the theme here, is to not give up and to just keep trying because with all your effort and that determination you have it helps. It helps you get just one step father and no matter how strong you were before you got it. Your always going t ...more
Lydia
This 179 page book was an easy read. The language is simple but the story of Peg Kehret surviving Polio is very touching. Her path from falling in the hallway in school to be paralysed from the neck down within 24 hours. She had three different types of polio, which made her almost face death. The novel is about her path to getting recovered, and her ways of slowly being able to get back into her old habits. She shows others what a big difference it makes not being able to walk, not being able t ...more
Amy
This is a very short and easy to read account of what it was like to have polio. More than that it is a story about how we treat others-- who are healthy and not. I enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would, and I recommend it to anyone who knows someone who is going through an illness or has a disability. It really sheds light on what challenges they face and what we can do to help alleviate those challenges.
Michelle
When coming up with reading assignments for my students' summer project, I was excited when a fellow colleague found this book: Small Steps. Instantly I was brought back to my childhood. I had read the book around the same age my students are reading it. I loved the book at the time, and it was one of the books that helped cultivate my love for reading. Coming back to this book as an adult was a different experience. It is most definitely written for a younger audience, but the story is still po ...more
Kate
Wow. Peg Kehret is still a popular writer in my intermediate school and here she manages to hit the ball out of the park with the true story of her recovery from polio. She isn't overly detailed but the just-enough-for-5th-grade detail takes you from fear to sadness to joy. I would recommend this far beyond the 4th-8th set, as anyone who grew up before the 70s will remember the horrible epidemic and have some personal connection to someone who recovered from polio (or didn't recover.) This is al ...more
Adyson Maves
This memoir is inspiring and touching to the heart. It shares a difficult life of a struggling polio patient that not only learned about herself but made new friends, and experienced life in a new perspective.
Karen Wilson
What an amazing story! I started it this morning and didn't want to put it down. I will be giving it to my friends before returning it to the library. A definite must read!!
Kathy
It's definitely worth reading the anniversary edition with excerpts from letters written to the author. I learned a lot about polio that I didn't know and in the past I worked in a travel medicine clinic for an infectious disease doctor. I know polio still exists but the world is getting closer every day to eradicating it. I think anyone considering NOT vaccinating their child should read this book since there is still no cure for polio and treatment hasn't changes in over 60 years and that trea ...more
Amy Greenberger
This is a really good story that everyone should read.
Hilary
Peg was the only girl in her small Midwestern town to get polio. She was an ordinary 12 year old girl, who was excited about her school’s homecoming parade and the coming summer. Then one day her muscles began to twitch and pulse, and she came down with a fever. A doctor quickly diagnosed her with polio and she moved to a specialized hospital. However, her condition continued to worsen, as her breathing became shallow and labored. She found out that she had a very acute form of polio. She was th ...more
Jamie
This book is about a girl named Peg who gets polio. She colapses one day in school and is forced to be hospitalized. The days in the hospital are grieving and when she feels like she adapted to a hospital she has to change hospitals. Early mornings at the hospital are painfull the nurse whim Peg hates so much constructs painfull stretches for Peg and does not let her drink her favorite milk shake. Just when things seem to be getting worse, something happens to Peg that changes everything.
I hav
...more
Megan
“Now an iron lung loomed besides m bed, hoses hanging like gray tentacles—a gray octopus read to swallow me any time.” (Kehret 30-31). This quote is from Small Steps: The Year I got Polio. This book is written by Peg Kehret. Ms. Kehret wrote this book because she had a really bad case of polio and lived through all of it. This book is a first hand book about what happened to her. Her friends and family wanted her to write a book about what had happened to her. Anyone who wants to know about or h ...more
Allison Morgan
Genre/Category: Nonfiction
Polio/Autobiography/Peg Kehret/Recovery/Determination

This book was an autobiography of Peg Kehret's experience getting polio when she was twelve years old. Readers get to experience with Kehret how she became paralyzed from the neck down, lost control of her breathing, and slowly began to recover until she could walk on her own again. The entire incident--from getting polio to getting well--spanned for about 7 months.

My roommate recommended this book as my nonfiction r
...more
Elizabetht
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small steps 5 27 Dec 14, 2012 03:38PM  
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Peg Kehret writes middle grade fiction and nonfiction. She's won dozens of state children's choice awards, where kids vote for their favorite book.

When she was twelve, Peg was paralyzed with polio. Most of her protagonists are the age she was then.

A volunteer with animal rescue groups, three of Peg's books are co-authored by Pete the Cat."
More about Peg Kehret...
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