Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: For Every One by Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
YA Poetry
ages 12 and up
112 pages

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to dream. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them. All the kids who are scared to dream, or don’t know how to dream, or don’t dare to dream because they’ve NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguish—because just having the dream is the start you need, or you won’t get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.

A pitch perfect graduation, baby, or love my kid gift.


Poetry is one of those areas where I tend to be super critical. When I received Reynolds 'letter' to dreamers, I dove in with caution already on high-alert. But I was completely surprised.

This is a letter written in poetry form to dreamers, especially youth, and for those, who are scared to dream because they fear the dreams might never come true. Although the poem is over a hundred pages long. . .something which already had me wondering. . .it is not a long, thick read. Each page holds only a few lines or a short verse of thought. Never long. Never wordy. But packing tons of punch. It wasn't any trouble to read this in one sitting from beginning to end, although it is divided up into four sections.

The words come from the soul, speak clear truth and don't paint a reality which is more colorful than it really is. The words and phrases are easy to follow and hit home. The message is encouraging but at the same time, never allows the reader to believe that life is butterflies, easy or that every dream comes true with hard work. It's a naked truth which rings clear without ever talking down to the audience. The author brings his thoughts across in a way, which is easy to relate to, realistic and honest.

Although I started reading this convinced that it was headed for the dusty corner of one of my book shelves, I ended it knowing that I'd found a book which I'd like to share with several youth who are about to embark on life with hopes of seeking the dreams of their own.

In other words, this is a wonderfully meaningful piece of poetry.

And here he is. . .
Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, A Printz Award Honoree, a National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a tow time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds was the American Booksellers Association's 2017 spokesperson for Indies First, and was the national spokesperson for the 2018 celebration of School Library Month in April 2018 sponsored by the American Association of school Librarians (AASL). Jason's many works of fiction include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave As You, For Every One, the Track (Ghost, Patina, sunny, and Lu), and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at

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