Recently I read the young adult novel “The Boy Who Ran” written by author Michael Selden. As the book had 148 pages, it was the perfect length for young adults and had a story that could appeal to girls and boys. Because I had a background teaching in middle school, I like that the story had a message important to young readers about overcoming adversity. I analyzed how to use the book for educational purposes as a parent and as a teacher. While reading the book, I wholeheartedly felt that the author developed the plot and the characters very well to create an intriguing story that captivated my attention.
As an educator, I felt that the book would appeal to young readers who enjoyed reading about Native Americans. Beginning with a gory massacre scene, the book focused on a boy who survived the massacre. After spending time in the forest living with some deer, the boy was reluctantly accepted into the community a nearby group who never named him. When the boy fell into a habit of never talking to the people, the community gossiped that he was strange and had something wrong with him. Many in the group shunned the boy.
Personally, I thought that a lot of middle grades students would be able to identify with the feeling of isolation that the boy experienced. Because I have seen many girls in middle grades talk about social problems, I felt the book would be appropriate for girls, who would also enjoy the slightest bit of romance that appears in the book. Because the main character was a boy, I thought the book could appeal to boys who could also be interested in the topic of hunting and nature. I liked that the boy in the book overcame adversity and learned to communicate with others well, which helped him fit in, and helped him give back to his community.
Because I was an avid runner, I felt that I could understand the joy and euphoria that the boy experienced when he ran faster than any other person he knew. Building on my prior knowledge of how fast deer run, I predicted that the boy could have learned to run fast when he lived with the deer when he was a child. I enjoyed that I could relate to the boy’s love of running. If I were choosing a book for a child who enjoyed running as a hobby, I would pick “The Boy Who Ran” to help motivate the child with a story that appealed to the child’s interests.
Although the boy was an outcast in the community, he was full of surprises and had talents that others did not know he possessed. I felt that many children would be able to relate to the feeling of hiding special talents. My background in education has shown me many children who were shy about their gifts for different reasons. The book did an excellent job of showing that sharing talents with others was critical to the success of an entire community. In the book, the boy learned to share his talents to help strengthen his entire community with his skills of hunting, tracking, and running. As I had an M.Ed in Elementary Education and had studied children’s literature at Vanderbilt, I developed the following list of some questions I would ask a child about the book.
Questions For Children
1. How did the boy’s talents make him different from the other people in his community?
2. Have you ever felt that you had special talents that others did not understand?
3. Have you ever felt misunderstood the way the boy did? Do you think that other children you know feel the same way?
4. Visualize how the boy tracked animals in the woods. Use what you visualized to create a picture.
5. Why did the boy choose to overcome his unwillingness to talk? How did others react when the boy began to talk?
Wholeheartedly I enjoyed the plot of the book, which had interesting plot twists that kept me reading. Because the book began with a very sad massacre scene, I was very satisfied with the happy ending that created a clear resolution. The ending of the book gave hope that everything would be okay for the boy and his community, which was a wonderful way to end a children’s book with positivity. I felt that the book could be a great pleasure read for kids.
I received a free copy of the book, but it in no way influenced my opinion