Fitting In Isn't Easy

Children - Social Issues
13 Pages
Reviewed on 12/13/2015
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Author Biography

Devonia Reed was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She has been a lover of reading all of her life and has spent countless hours on great adventures. As an educator she has been sharing her passion with young readers for more than 16 years. Ms. Reed is excited about her first children's novel and about taking a new journey with children everywhere.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Fitting In Isn't Easy by Devonia Reed is a short story for children about social issues. Kayden Morgan is excited about being a third grader. She loves school and is happy to have Ms. Henderson as her teacher for the upcoming year. One morning, about a month after the beginning of the semester, the principal brought a new student to Kayden's class. She was very tall, and her clothes were not in as good condition as those worn by most of the other students. Her sneakers were tattered and worn. Ms. Henderson asked Michelle, the new girl, to sit across from Kayden. Kayden smiled and said hello to Michelle, but other students in the class were not so nice. They rolled their eyes, and some began to call her names. Michelle got angry one day at the name-calling and hit the boy who was taunting and bullying her. The suspension she got made it hard for her mother to feed her and her two little brothers, but it seemed almost better, as far as Michelle was concerned, if she never went back to school again.

Devonia Reed's children's social issues short story, Fitting In Isn't Easy, addresses the bullying and isolating behaviors seen in schools when a student seems different than the others. Sometimes, it's just being a new student. At other times, it's a strange smell or being tall or poor. This story highlights the trauma such isolating behavior can cause, and it teaches children to put themselves in another's shoes to understand what being new or different feels like. Reed includes a Teacher/Parent Corner as an appendix that includes discussion suggestions for after the story is read and defines the various forms that bullying can take. There are also other suggestions for encouraging active reading of the text. I was very impressed with this story. I quickly became involved with the situations both Michelle and Kayden found themselves in and could empathize with each of their predicaments. The underlying message of the story is presented in a highly accessible manner, and the discussion questions are an added bonus. Fitting In Isn't Easy is most highly recommended.

Janelle Fila

Fitting In Isn't Easy by Devonia Reed is a cute story for young readers that touches on topics like bullying and making friends at a new school. Kayden is excited for the start of third grade, but when a new girl starts at school, no one likes her. She looks different than the other students, for one, with her hair in cornrows and old ratty shoes that the other students think are gross. She smells like urine (because her younger brother wets the bed) and the other students call her "pee-pee girl" behind her back. Kayden doesn't think it is right to make fun of Michelle and she wants to include the new girl in some of the school's activities, but her old friends don't like Michelle and don't see why they have to be nice to her. Kayden is torn between doing the right thing and keeping her mouth shut so her old friends will still like her and want to sit with her.

This is a cute story that showcases topics that young readers should be aware of and may already have experienced. It is a nice way to bring the topics of bullying, class, cleanliness, and friendship into a conversation with young readers. Parents and educators will appreciate this text and the goals that it accomplishes. And readers will like the clever story, the fun characters, and the way the story resolves itself at the end, giving them a clear example of how they could act in a similar situation.

Alysha Allen

Kayden Morgan lives a comfortable life with her parents and little brother, Jeremiah, in Devonia Reed’s Fitting In Isn’t Easy. All summer she has been eagerly waiting to begin the third grade. Kayden fits nicely in after only a month into the school year. Everything is going well--she has a wonderful teacher and a group of friends to call her own. But, when Michelle Randolph joins her class as a new student at the school, Kayden must make the choice to forsake the reputation she has secured for herself to befriend an outcast or stand by as Michelle continues to be taunted for her derelict appearance. As Kayden learns of the reason for Michelle’s squalid look, Kayden must take courage to overcome her fears of aspersion by her classmates in order to do what is right.

Devonia Reed’s Fitting In Isn’t Easy serves as a practical lesson on accepting those who diverge from the standard norm, one that teachers and parents can impart to their students and children. The questions included at the end of the book can be asked to direct and facilitate reflection on the deeper aspects of the text, as well as to cultivate critical analysis. So, whether just beginning school or beginning one’s third year, Reed’s short story is effective and relatable to the experiences which children are bound to encounter when in school and later on in life. The ideas are pared down into digestible nuggets in the form of an instructional, moralistic tale imperative for all students of life to master in their formative years.