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Save Me A Seat takes a deep dive into the perspective of two 10-year-old boys to show that the assumptions we make about other people are often wrong. Authors Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan team up in this novel to give authentic voice to the dual protagonists. Despite having two authors, Save Me A Seat reads smoothly and works as a cohesive whole.

The Story of Save Me A Seat

Ravi, a recent immigrant from Inda, starts his first day of fifth grade in America full of confidence, only to have everything go wrong. Joe, a shy kid with auditory processing disorder, is already sure his year will be horrible, especially with his mom now working as a lunch monitor. The pair of boys don’t start out as friends. In fact, Ravi makes some pretty harsh judgments about Joe, and, in turn, is judged by his other classmates and even his teacher. Surprisingly, what unites them, in the end, is the bully who picks on both of them.

What I Loved About Save Me A Seat

  1. Theme–The theme of this book makes it a worthwhile read. Miss Frost says, “You shouldn’t assume things about a person before you know who they really are.” And the characters in this book don’t just judge each other based on one thing. Ravi is judged because of his accent. Joe is judged as unintelligent because of his Auditory Processing Disorder. Ravi misjudges Dillon, the class bully, as a friend. First impressions can be wrong in more ways than one. This book will help kids develop empathy as well as consider who they may have misjudged.
  2. Books Within Books–I love when a book leads you to another book. Ravi and Joe are reading Bud, Not Buddy for class, and they both relate parts of their own story to Bud’s story.

What Parents Should Know

  1. Bullying--There is a pretty cruel bully who mocks both boys and steals things. Ravi has recollections of a boy he bullied back in India. At first, the memories make him laugh, but later he realizes just how it feels to be laughed at. In the end, the boys take their own revenge on the bully.
  2. Family Situations–Joe is mortified when his mom blows him a kiss across the cafeteria. While understandable, Joe is very angry with his mom in a way that bothered me. There is also a tense situation with his dad where Joe is brutally honest. It ends well in a loving family relationship, but Joe’s embarrassment and anger with his parents may concern some families.
  3. Racism--Joe’s dad initially expresses over “those people” when he learns the boy bullying Joe is Indian (American born). While Joe hates this bully, he questions his dad’s language. Joe is also the first person to notice everyone else is mispronouncing Ravi’s name.

Overall, I’d recommend this book for kids nine and older. Also, the audiobook is probably the best way to experience this book so your kids can hear Ravi’s accent and the hear the various words pronounced correctly. Two separate narrators narrate the chapters told in each boy’s perspective. You can find the audiobook of Save Me A Seat here.

What book has helped your kids not prejudge others?

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