A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Like the other books in the Ryan Hart Story series, this one introduces readers to a Black historical figure associated with Portland, Oregon. This time, it's Thelma Johnson Streat, a painter and dancer who was the first African-American woman to have her work exhibited in New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Open communication can help resolve conflict. Showing love and sharing joy make the world a better place. Before you worry about something, use your curiosity to ask questions and try to understand what's really happening.
Positive Role Models
Characters demonstrate how open communication and empathy can deepen relationships and heal conflict when it occurs. Parents engage their children in work as well as caring for younger siblings. The main character's grandmother is a confidant and a source of wisdom and perspective. Kids exhibit loyalty to their friends.
Ryan, her friends, and family are Black, and other Black families in Portland, Oregon are portrayed. Ryan's family doesn't have a lot of money. Author Renée Watson said her goal with this series was to "provide 'a nuanced telling of the Black community'" in her hometown of Portland, Oregon where she "leans into the joy more so than the pain."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson (Newbery Award winner, Coretta Scott King Honor recipient, and NAACP Image Award nominee) is the third book in the Ryan Hart Story series. Ryan Hart, a Black 5th grade girl in Portland, Oregon, adjusts to becoming the middle child upon the birth of her baby sister, one of her best friends moving away, and the impact of her dad losing his job and having to work the night shift at a lower-paying job. Themes of open, honest communication, empathy, curiosity, friendship, and family are emphasized in this middle grade novel.
Is It Any Good?
The Ryan Hart series just gets better as it goes along. In Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson the author stays consistent with the main character's passion for cooking, solid relationships with friends and family, and love of learning in school. On the foundation of the familiar cast of characters, readers can gently explore the challenges of the middle-school years, from classmates who tease to trying to make sense of adult values and problems. Tween readers will relate to Ryan's stuck-in-the-middle problems, her creative solutions model excellent coping skills, and Grandma's wisdom is great for readers of all ages.
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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.
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