Ways to Grow Love
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published April 27, 2021
About Ways to Grow Love
Ryan Hart and her family are back in another installment of stories about a Black girl finding her way and her voice as she grows through change and challenges. In this book, Ryan finds herself waiting on lots of things — like for her new sister to be born healthy, for her new recipes to turn out right, for that summer camp trip to go better than she fears! And of course Ryan is facing these new challenges and new experiences in her classic style — with a bright outlook and plenty of spirit!
Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.
I loved Ryan Hart’s debut, WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE, but I feel like Renée Watson really hit her stride with WAYS TO GROW LOVE. Every page is packed with energy, love, and summertime fun. Ryan navigates her changing role in her family from little sister to big sister with poise and pizzazz.
The story also explores changing friendships as one of Ryan’s two best friends brings a new girl into the mix at summer camp. When Ryan shares her worries about camp with her grandmother, her grandmother responds not only by encouraging her to show kindness and be open to allowing another girl into her friend group, but also empowering her to be strong and not let anyone else make her feel small or less valuable. I love that she brought that balance to her advice, and it made me wish my own parenting advice had been as solid and as validating in those moments. Honestly, I want to take that speech and frame it where every girl can read it, because it’s so exactly what we all need to hear at some point: encouragement to find the balance between being open and kind but not letting ourselves be trampled or made small.
Ryan’s growth in her relationships with her family and friends and her reflections at the end about the summer she had and how it was different than the one she expected wrapped up the story in a powerful, positive way. All in all, this is a fantastic book about resilience, friendship, and summertime fun.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Ryan and her family are Black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Ryan attends a summer camp through her church. References to prayer before bedtime and Easter services.
Ryan’s older brother teases her about ghosts haunting the summer camp in an attempt to scare her. Ryan and her friends play a return prank that results in someone falling down a short set of stairs. (No serious injuries.)
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