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You Go First
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that You Go First, by Newbery Medal winner Erin Entrada Kelly (Hello, Universe), is told by two kids in alternating chapters -- a 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania and an 11-year-old boy in Louisiana -- over the course of a week. Although they live in different states, the kids bond over an online game of Scrabble and help each other deal with their family and friendship issues. Characters use mild insults including "idiot," "dork," "nerd," and "loser." Bullying is a large part of the book, but kids will learn about the importance of family and the power of friendship, courage, and perseverance.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
YOU GO FIRST tells the story of 12-year-old Charlotte Lockard from Pennsylvania and 11-year-old Ben Boxer from Louisiana. Charlotte can't bear to visit her dad in the hospital and doesn't know what to do about her best friend leaving her for the "cool kids." Ben doesn't understand why his parents are divorcing or why he's having trouble fitting in at his new school. Thanks to an online game of Scrabble, the kids unknowingly help each other deal with their problems and eventually realize that friendships can form in unlikely places.
Is it any good?
This is a sweet and hopeful tale of friendship, family, and perseverance. Author Erin Entrada Kelly creates relatable characters whose unique, memorable connection and heartfelt conversations perfectly capture the awkward, at times humiliating, aspects of middle school. Packed with tons of advice and an important life lesson from Robert Frost, You Go First shows kids that everything will be OK. Readers will root for Charlotte and Ben as they learn to step outside their comfort zone and understand that it only takes one person to make you feel like you belong.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how You Go First deals with bullying. How does this issue affect the characters, especially Charlotte and Ben?
Ben thinks that his generation relies too much on digital communication. Do you agree?
Charlotte and Ben are online friends who eventually start talking to each other on the phone even though they've never met IRL. Be sure to talk to kids about privacy, internet safety, and social media rules.
Do you ever feel different or left out? When? Do you think others in your class or school feel that way? What can you do to help them feel included? How have new friends come into your life? How have you helped build new friendships?
- Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: April 10, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.