A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers learn along with the characters about Beatrice Morrow Cannady, a 20th-century civil rights activist in Portland, Oregon.
You can change the world by changing the world around you, one small, positive act at a time.
Positive Role Models
Parents and teachers model listening to young people, are observant, and communicate well. The middle-school age kids demonstrate the same behavior toward their friends and classmates. The kids are also encouraged to look to historical figures they study, who are activists and leaders, as role models. Ryan and her classmates work together on presentations in class.
The main characters are Black children and families in Portland, Oregon. One of the main storylines involves children learning about historical figures for Black History Month.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ways to Build Dreams by Renée Watson (Newbery Award winner, Coretta Scott King Honor recipient, and NAACP Image Award nominee) is the fourth book in the Ryan Hart Story series. Black 5th grader Ryan from Portland, Oregon lives with her mother, father, elder brother, and infant sister. In this installment, Ryan prepares a Black History Month presentation with classmates, helps her brother prepare for a slam poetry contest, and worries about whether she and her best friend will go to different middle schools. This story emphasizes messages about making positive change, family support, healthy communication, perseverance, and teamwork.
Is It Any Good?
This is a sweet, relatable middle grade tale. In Ways to Build Dreams by Renée Watson, readers encounter a lively main character who's imaginative, caring, and vulnerable, along with a likable crew of family and friends. The dilemmas the 5th grader faces are realistic, and readers will identify with the big and small worries Ryan faces throughout the book. The short chapters make for accessible reading, and though there's nothing super dramatic happening here, there's enough yearning and joy to pull readers in and keep them interested. Although it's part of a series, this title can be read on its own, though all the books are great and recommended reading.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.