One of the requirements for one of my graduate classes is to spend 10 hours observing in a library. My library of choice was a public library within my district. Obviously, as is the nature of librarians and book lovers, my sponsoring librarian and I got to talking about books. More specifically, we got to talking about award winning books. It’s really thanks to her that I picked up this one.
You see Ghost by Jason Reynolds is not a book I would normally pick up. Sure, I love middle grade and I adore children’s books, but I still have many years before my own kids will reach for a book of this level. This means, I still have many years before I would need to screen this book to see if it’s one I need in my personal library.
However, the way my sponsoring librarian talked about this book made me want to check it out that very day. Since I don’t have a library card for this area yet (bad, I know!) I asked my MIL to borrow it for me using her card. She was happy to oblige.
I read it in one day.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?
Why I Loved It
Look, putting aside the fact that I believe diversity is important in books, this one was so important to me because of the lessons it held. Ghost is a boy with a lot of anger and his past is definitely scary (even I, an adult woman, would be terrified if I experienced this boy’s trauma).
The lessons this book holds are important for my own children – judgment, shame, humility – all of these can be found within the pages of this book. It’s important for children to learn these lessons and I thought Reynolds did a great job capturing those lessons.
I unashamedly shed several tears at the end.
And of course the diversity is important. There is so much “wonder bread” in the world of literature that reading about these young, African American children was a breath of fresh air. I live for diverse characters and I live for narrative from the point of view of a person of color.
Does it make the cut?
When my sponsoring librarian told me about this book, I knew I’d read it, but I did not expect to want to immediately add it to my personal library. Without a doubt, hands down, I need this series on my middle grade shelves. It’s wonderful. I could sing praises of this book all day.
In fact, as of writing this, I’ve recommended it to at least 3 of my adult friends – especially to one of my adult friends who’s son is a middle school teacher.
In short, I can see why this book has won awards and exactly why the library I observed in has 15 copies.
Who should read it?
Do you have kids? Read it.
Do you work with kids? Read it.
Do you never want to have kids ever at any point in your life? Read it.
I cannot stress this enough – you should read this book. It’s wonderfully written. The characters, especially Coach, jump off the pages and make you reflect on your own childhood and the people who influenced your life for the better.
I seriously believe this is the stuff middle grade should be made of! It tackles tough topics and offers insight for children into the world their friends may be living in. I seriously, seriously recommend this to anyone.
Middle grade isn’t something I dive into too often. What’s your favorite middle grade series? Or if you can’t think of your favorite middle grade series – what’s your favorite middle grade book?
PS – stay tuned! Pretty soon, I’m going to be posting a video about my favorite middle grade books!