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  • Renee Anderson

READ THIS! - Look Both Ways

Imagine that school is dismissed and the kids head out of the building, some walking home and others on the bus. Off they go. This month’s book recommendation explores who these kids are. As they leave school for the day, where are they headed, what are they thinking about, what happens on the way home, who are they? That’s the premise of Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds and it is SO good! As in, it was a finalist for both the National Book Awards and the Coretta Scott King Award.

The first book that I ever read by Jason Reynolds was Ghost, a short novel about a struggling middle school-aged black boy who discovers who he is by running for a track team. Ghost is simply written, yet so powerful. It completely floored me. I have since read every other book that Jason Reynolds has ever written. He is one of the best writers of children’s and young adult books living today.

The point of Look Both Ways isn’t to tell a story. That’s what makes it so cool. Jason is doing something really creative with this (and yes, I call authors by their first names because they feel like friends to me). It’s essentially a collection of 10 short stories. They are all tied together by the walk home from Latimer Middle School. Short stories might not be exactly right. These aren’t complete tales, necessarily.

They are more like vignettes.


And they are all tied together, but only by a few very loose threads.

Look Both Ways looks at all those kids heading home from school and reveals who they are. Every kid has a story. This one peeks into those stories and reminds us not to make assumptions.

If you have a chance to read the audio book, this one is really good. Each vignette is voiced by a different reader, including some of my favorites.

If you or your middle school students are looking for something short and accessible, but also creative and meaningful, look for books by Jason Reynolds.

So good!

Recommendation Written by: Amanda Northrup

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