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A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp
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A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space Camp

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  280 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Besides being a football coach at his Michigan High School, Mike Kersjes taught special education classes, dealing with children whose disabilities included Tourette syndrome, Downs Syndrome, dyslexia, eating disorders and a variety of emotional problems.

One autumn Kersjes got the outlandish idea that his students would benefit from going to Space Camp, where, in conjuncti
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 6th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 18th 2002)
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Eileen Drummond
Jan 03, 2016 Eileen Drummond rated it really liked it
I saw the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie before I read this book, and I was still touched and moved knowing what would happen. This is a heartwarming story of a special education teacher who proved that space camp is for everyone.
Definitely a feel-good book. Kersjes details first the struggle to get approval to take his class of Special Ed students to space camp, and then the experience of preparing the students...and, of course, going to space camp.

It's an enjoyable story, particularly when it comes to the ways in which Kersjes and his co-teacher prepared the students—lots of little things come into play, often in ways that the teachers hadn't quite expected. It's also just plain sad to hear about the way those students
Melissa (ladybug)
May 21, 2012 Melissa (ladybug) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Was a very enjoyable story. This book was about a Special Education Teacher and his students. The good and the bad was shown in this book. We see that with the right opportunities, and with just a little patience and help, children are able to accomplish amazing things. These children, who had myriad problems, were able to go to Space Camp (camp for highly intelligent kids) and were able to have fun, participate and learn. This book will inform and bring you warm feelings. The children showed th ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
The novel, “A Smile as Big as the Moon,” is a story about how special-ed students broke their stereotype and exceeded everyone’s expectations academically. The author, told this promising story in chronological order, telling all of the exciting events in the order that they occurred. The author liked to tell the book with exciting details about how the students fail, but then make greater strides to succeed. As a reader, I was interested throughout the book. The author shows all of the hardship ...more
Oct 01, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it
What can I say besides this book is amazing? I had found this during research for my capstone project(an intensive project required to graduate), and knew I had to read it. This book shows anyone who doesn't really understand the dynamics of special needs and special education what it really is. It was wicked cool that it was a true story, and the fact that Kersjes and his students went through all that they did and still came out on top was awesome. I love a story that shows good people, and Mi ...more
Jan 27, 2016 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mike Kersjes a special education teacher (and football coach) in Grand Rapids Michigan gets a crazy idea -- to take his class of 20 spec ed high school students to the prestigious week-long Space Camp. His principal thinks its a crazy idea as well as the special ed coordinator for the school district. And so does the Space Camp director. But Mike knows that his kids can meet this challenge and he fights tooth and nail to accomplish it. Fortunately the area congressman is on the Space projects co ...more
Oct 20, 2012 W rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-read, book-club
“Remember — don’t be afraid to go after your dreams. It may take a lot of hard work on your part, but if you’re willing to make the sacrifices, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.”

In 1989, Mike Kersjes and his teaching partner, Robynn McKinney, got the idea to send their class of special education students to Space Camp — an opportunity generally reserved for the best and brightest students. After overcoming initial obstacles, fundraising struggles, personal trials, and opposition from wit
Jenny Snelling
Jul 06, 2012 Jenny Snelling rated it it was amazing
The book was very heartwarming. A group of special education students who did the unthinkable and succeeded as they were the first special ed students who went to space camp. I cheered on their successes and cried with their disappointments. A teacher who went through challenges to get his class to space camp. He prepared them to the best of his ability and then stepped back to allow his students to shine.
It is a book for anyone who works with special need students should read. There is somethin
Jonathan Stefanopoulos
Jul 29, 2014 Jonathan Stefanopoulos rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the things that inspired me to change my career and become a special education teacher... I learned a lot about teaching kids with special needs and what to expect when I became a teacher. I recommend this book for anyone considering teacher or for anyone who works with kids. I have heard they made a movie about the book and look forward to watching it. The story is very inspirational!
Bryna Messmer
Jan 28, 2014 Bryna Messmer rated it really liked it
He had me from the get-go! What a great journey. It was a real "feel-good" book and even had me in tears at times. My only critique would be that he should've left it more of a mystery of whether or not they actually GO to the Space Camp. Because you are already aware that they are going, the struggles he went through to get them there was not as intense as it could've been.
Sep 28, 2011 Kelley rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2015 Darrie-Ann rated it it was amazing
After seeing the Hallmark Special Presentation of A Smile as Big As the Moon we went to visit Space Camp, and now on our third trip with our son, the excitement is still as great as the first time.
Finding a copy of the book the special was based on was golden, and not a page was disappointing.
Edna Messmer
Apr 06, 2014 Edna Messmer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Edna by: Bryna
This was a heart warming novel about a special education teacher and his unique class. I wish he had just named the book 'A Smile as Big as the Moon" and left off the rest. Along with that I wish he had eliminated or changed his prologue. These two things allowed the reader to know that the class DID go to space camp and then he spent a good half of the book developing how he convinced the director, his principal and others that his kids deserved to go. Although still interesting, I think it wou ...more
Rachel Dyer
Nov 15, 2014 Rachel Dyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic book. It was very well-written, and I couldn't put it down. Even the parts at the beginning that were only about trying to get paperwork submitted and going to meetings were suspenseful and entertaining. The authors did a fantastic job telling their story, and it was an excellent and uplifting story. I also appreciated that realities weren't sugar-coated. The author expressed his worries throughout the process of taking his special eduction class to space camp. He included t ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book my senior year of high school......a month later, I was applying for teacher education programs. What a great story.
Marjorie Blackman
Jan 01, 2016 Marjorie Blackman rated it it was amazing
Loved this book - inspiring to the very last page! What an amazing teacher and what a fantastic journey he took his students on.
Jan 22, 2016 Joni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprisingly good story about a teacher and his students making a trip of a lifetime.
Jan 17, 2016 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspirational and candid.
Mar 11, 2012 Miste rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feel good true story about a group of special education high school kids who go to space camp. The book is written by the teacher who helped make it all possible. It goes to show that given the right opportunities and help ALL children are capable of doing amazing things. Before this particular group of children went to space camp it was reserved for honors/gifted type, rich kids. These kids were able not only to go, but they were competitive right along with the gifted kids! A real triumph of u ...more
Mar 28, 2012 Duffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As a big sister to a younger sister with Downs Syndrome, it is refreshing to read about one of the unique teachers of special ed. It is inspiring, it is a call to "shoot for the moon," and it reads easily and smoothly. A lot better than the TV version of the same story. It is good to know that special ed made a positive impact on the development of Space Camp.
Dec 05, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening story into the life of those with special needs.

This is a great book to read not only for those in the teaching profession but any individual. It voices the world through the eyes of those who see it in a different light. Uplifting and inspirational.
Aug 17, 2007 Jessie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SO great. A fabulous story that cheers for the underdogs! Makes me love working in special ed! It's a story about a high school special ed teacher who tries to get his kids into Space Camp that's typically for "gifted and talented" kids. A really quick and feel good read.
Aug 20, 2007 Jamie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was a FABULOUS special ed story - so up my alley! this teacher worked to get his special ed kids to go to NASA space camp against all types of stupid people. i laughed out loud, shed some tears, smiled dorky smiles and just loved it!!!
Nov 15, 2009 Nicholas rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teachers (esp. special education teachers), future astronauts
An interesting look into the challenges facing special education students and teachers today. These students had a variety of mental and social challenges and it was very interesting to learn what all of these people went through on their journey.
Jun 04, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing! Everyone needs to read this book in order to see special education students as individuals and not lumped together under the same umbrella. I also really liked how honest Kersjes was about his feelings/expectations.
Robin Templin
May 03, 2013 Robin Templin rated it it was amazing
If I had to choose one book to share with teachers... it would be this true story. Makes you believe in the endless possibilities that can happen when kids are simply believed in and given the opportunity to soar.
Cindy Berry-riek
awesome book!!!! =) especially since I've worked with special needs kids for the past seven years & my husband, sons & my brothers are all obsessed with aviation & space exploration. Oh yea, I like it too
Aug 11, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! A must read for all teachers! Really a great view point and insight on special education students. Book and movie are very close in comparison and both are incredible and inspiring.
Sarah Wright
Jul 21, 2013 Sarah Wright rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I read along with my husband's required reading for grad school! I passed on the treasure and now all of my family has enjoyed it. Inspiring and heartwarming!!!
May 22, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
An inspiring tale...brought more to life since I just graduated from Space Camp myself, and I grew up in Huntsville. Catch the movie if you are not a reader.
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