Margin Notes

Guest Writer Melissa Wilson-Smith Recommends Ghost by Jason Reynolds


Do you find yourself trying to find a book that could speak to all of your students in a general way, yet want something that speaks to each student, individually?  If so, Ghost by Jason Reynolds may be a great option for you.  Reynolds has a way of speaking to his audience that is strategically aimed at every individual’s personal struggle.  Ghost is the first book in the Track series and is a National Book Award Finalist.

Ghost is about Castle Cranshaw, a teenage African American boy who has witnessed and survived some of life’s worst situations.   Castle is the underdog, the kid that should amount to nothing.   He is a sunflower seed loving, Guinness World book obsessed boy that proves that it takes a village to raise a child.  His mother is trying her best as a single, working mother, his father is in jail for an unthinkable act, and Castle, finally, finds himself in the right place at the right time.

Trying to stay out of altercations and prove himself academically so that he can make the track team, Reynolds allows the reader to feel each decision that Castle has to make as he tries to stand up for himself, his family, and his beliefs all while staying out of trouble.  This novel truly proves that anyone can accomplish anything.

Castle’s story has the ability to speak to so many.  Students that struggle with finding and sticking with a book, who are going through a difficult life circumstance, or enjoy reading a series, Ghost may be the right novel for them.    If you are a 37-year-old mother of three that needs evidence that it takes a village to raise a child, Ghost may also be right for you.  I would encourage you to add this YA novel to your classroom library, use it as a read aloud, and ensure that it finds its way into as many hands as possible.

Melissa Wilson-Smith is a guest blogger for Margin Notes and teaches grade 8 Language Arts at Bliss Carman Middle School, in Fredericton, NB.   She is married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of three children, Lochlan (8), Anderson (6), and Airdrie (3).   She tries to balance her school life with her home life, while on the crazy roller coaster of being a mother to an autistic child.