Book Review: More Than Anything Else

More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby centers on the true story of a nine-year-old black boy who lives on a small settlement in Malden, West Virginia in 1865. He works from dawn to dusk in a saltworks with his father and brother, but more than anything else, he wants to learn how to read and write.

“My arms ache from lifting the shovel, but I do not think about the pain there. I think about the hunger still in my head…I think there is a secret in those books.” He wants to be literate, to be able to read and write, but he must work all day which leaves little time for learning. This young boy and other people living in his settlement had to wait for a man to come read the news to them, and hearing this black man read only fuels his desire to read even more.

As a black educator, this book spoke to me. It is so important that black children understand the fight and struggle our ancestors had to learn. At times, we take so much for granted. Yes, I will be the first to admit that we have to do a better job educating black children in this country, but our past includes the true story of this young boy. This black boy grew up to have a major impact in our society, and at the end of the story, we learn who this young boy is. Of course, I’m not going to tell you. You have to read the book.

Rating: 5/5

Scholastic Book WizardGrades 2-4
Guided Reading LevelR
Accelerated Reader Level3.3

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