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More Than Anything Else

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  854 ratings  ·  297 reviews
Nine-year-old Booker works with his father and brother at the saltworks but dreams of the day when he'll be able to read.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Orchard Books
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Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  854 ratings  ·  297 reviews

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Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Simply put a beautiful story on reading with beautiful imagery. However, “More Than Anything Else” was more than that. It had a likable character named Booker to follow throughout the story. It compared grasping or “holding” on to something, a frog, with grasping knowledge or learning to read. A simile is used when Booker learns to read that shows his excitement while reflecting the setting of the story when he states “I shout and laugh like when I was baptized in the creek.” Simile and ...more
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely use it in a future classroom. More Than Anything Else tells the story of a young, black salt worker named Booker who desperately longs to read. He believes that books hold secrets and make their readers powerful. one night he sees a black man reading a newspaper to the crowd and becomes so excited he tells his mom, "Mama, I have to learn to read!" She finds him a book containing the alphabet and his dreams take off. He finally locates the ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 642
1 sentence description
This was a wonderful story about nine year old Booker, who had a yearning to learn to read despite his having work from sun up to sun down everyday. He studies and studies but it is until he meets the man like him that can read who shows him the song, has he begun to unlock the magic of reading.

curriculum connection

personal reaction
Excellent story. It ties into history and introduces children of all ages to civil rights and a different time in history, and
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book about a poor in a poor family and town working with his father and brother to provide for their family. This little boy wants more than anything in the world to be able to read. He thinks about reading all day long, and wishes he knew how. He sees a man reading the newspaper to a crowd and strives to be that man. He tells his mother he wants to learn to read, and she gives him what he needs to do so.

I love the author's use of metaphors to explain how much the child wants to
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interest Level: PreK-3
Reading Level: 3rd

More Than Anything Else tells the story of Booker T. Washington's journey into reading. Young readers may be surprised to learn that most children had to work alongside their parents, such as Booker did in the salt mines. This didn’t leave a lot of time for learning, especially if you were an African-American. Booker loves oral storytelling, but wants to learn how to read books. He believes this will let him become an even better storyteller as he’ll learn
Jeff Fortney
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
More Than Anything Else is the story of Booker T. Washington and his overwhelming desire to learn to read. In an era shortly after slavery has ended ("people are free now to do what they want and go where they want"), Booker and his family struggle at the salt mines. They don't have much to eat, they listen to stories from the people where they live and Booker feels the burning to learn what those black marks on paper mean. He knows if given a chance, he can do it and this will take him where he ...more
Olivia Lavelle
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby, really caught my attention. It was a book about a young boy named Booker who did not know how to read. He wanted to learn how to read more than anything else. This is all he thought about during his days and nights. He runs into this man who is making an announcement to the people that he can and will teach children of all ages how to read. Booker is aroused by the mans ability to read that he goes home and tells his mother that he wants to read. She ...more
Shoaa Aljohani
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The cover of this story sports the picture of a puzzled hero who is clearly wondering about something. This is designed to attract the reader's attention. The theme is very purposefully revealed. The author uses multiple captions for each picture beacuse it illustrates more than one of event. The author does not greatly vary narrative and dialogue. He depends heavily on narrative. From my point of view, a greater use of dialogue would have made the story more enjoyable. The language of the story ...more
Luz Herrera
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was very interesting and it kept me engaged. As I read through the book I really enjoyed the drawings and just the story itself.When I began I already liked how booker was so intrigued with wanting to read.He knew it was hard and gave up hope sometime but he kept strong.He saw the black man reading a book and that encouraged him even more to succeed. He also had the support from his mother which was a plus. I believe this book is great for kids! Booker teaches them to keep ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot to like in this picture book -- it introduces Booker T. Washington, gives a peek into the life of a black family in the mid 1800s, says a little about mining salt, and focuses on how deprived people can feel when they don't know how to read.

The next time I see my 3-year-old nephew, we're going to read this together. He's starting to see how the ABCs connect to reading.

The art brings the story to life. Why didn't Soentpiet win a Caldecott for his work on this book?!
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Dawn by: Marie Bradby
I met this author at the National Family Literacy Conference in Louisville. I had to buy the book after hearing her read it. It's realistic historical fiction based on the life of Booker T. Washington. Marie Bradby has avidly studied Washington's life and wanted to write a book because she was concerned about the lack of books about African-American children after her son was born. This is going to be a definite addition to my read-aloud library.
A beautiful story of young Booker who works in the salt mines but dreams on one thing more than anything else. When he finds someone who can teach him, hope and joy blossom within him. Gorgeous illustrations. Could be used to talk about the importance of reading, having determination to reach goals, as well as discussing the historical aspects and the contributions of Booker Washington.
Madeline Clements
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edtp-245
This book is about a little boy who wants to learn how to read. This is shown through his determination to learn. He has a lot of struggles but more than anything he wants to learn. In the end he learns to read.
Ms Threlkeld
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
An engaging story of a young boy living in poverty who desperately wants to learn how to read because he knows it will lead to a better life. This would make a great read aloud for any grade and could spark some interesting discussions about literacy.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful historical fiction about Booker T. Washington and how he longed to learn to read. Inspiring to all learners!
Carmen Orsi
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ-305
More Than Anything Else tells the story of 9 year old Booker T. Washington who wants more than anything else, even more than food, to learn how to read. The story begins with Booker, his father and his brother traveling on foot before sunrise to their job as salt miners. After a long day of work, they head back into town. The townspeople gather around a fire and begin telling stories orally. Booker notices a man reading a newspaper out loud. This sparks a fire in Booker and gives him hope that ...more
Monique Gil
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Booker is a 9 year old boy living in Malden, West Virginia in 1865 with his father, mother, older brother John, and sister. The men of the house work in the saltworks of West Virginia. Booker has a hunger, but it is not for food. He hungers for the ability to learn to read. One day a brown face of hope appears, who might make his dream come true.
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book, the pictures were beautiful, the dialogue was natural, and the many messages about the importance of reading
Haley Mccarthy
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kennedy Meredith
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Booker, a young boy, lives in a small town with his family. Every day he and his brother and father go to work shoveling salt. Although the work they do is hard and painful, that pain is nothing compared to the pain Booker feels emotionally. All Booker wants to do is read, but he doesn't know how and no one around him does either. One day, on Booker's way home from work, he spots a man who is reading a newspaper aloud. Booker wants to be like him so bad that he goes home and tells his mother ...more
Danielle Flowers
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
This book is based on the true story of a young boy in West Virginia named Booker T. Washington. He is only nine years old and works from dusk till dawn in the salt mines with his family, doing manual labor. His young body is sore, and his stomach is hungey. Yet Booker yearns for one thing, and that is to learn how to read. He finds a man who helps him understand the alphabet book given to him by his mother as a gift. This story is inspiring. It does a great job of illustrating the joy Booker ...more
Sydnee Peterson
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reveals the life of a young boy who spends most of his day packing salt with his papa and brother. He aches from working long days and imagines a life where he is privileged to read. He strives to learn to read, it is one of his greatest desires. He compares the hunger in his belly to his yearning to read. This book explores the struggles of race and the lack of opportunity during this time period. I love the use of imagery and expression through the mind of a bright and determined ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
More Than Anything Else is a fictional story of the historical figure Booker T. Washington and his desire to read, which is greater than any other desire. The book follows him in his daily life where he works hard in the salt mines with his father bother. Then, one day he sees a man reading in public. He tells his mom how he has a deep desire to learn to read, she gives him an alphabet book,which he cherishes and hopes to one day learn. shortly after he seeks the man he saw reading and asks him ...more
Savannah Baxter
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful book. It includes the story of a young boy working from dawn to dusk out in the salt mines, he is so famished but not due to the fact that he is hungry although that is also an underlying problem. He is hungry for knowledge, hungry for the richness of learning to read. Everyone around him lacks the skill of being able to read and the idea of learning it’s arts ignites a fire in his heart. (83) I think there are a lot of different ways you could incorporate this story, one ...more
Rachel Boruff
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: educ-305
“More Than Anything Else” is a book about a boy that longs to learn how to read. He works long days digging salt, and does not have much to eat, but he is driven toward his goal. Even though he is not entirely restricted with slavery, reading is still not a common practice. A man reading the newspaper ends up helping him with a book that he receives from his mother. This book is great for a classroom because it emphasizes the importance as well as how much of a privilege it is to read. It is a ...more
Alli Davis
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a beautiful and inspiring story. It was a story about a young African-American boy who works all day shoveling salt with his father and brother. He talks about being hungry but he does not mean the typical hunger for food, he hungers to learn to read. One day on his way home from work he sees a man who looks like him reading a newspaper, a “brown face of hope”. He receives a book from his mother and finds the man who was reading the newspaper. The man teaches him the alphabet and ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
"More Than Anything Else" is about the story of nine-year-old Booker and his journey to learning how to read, despite the fact that he works from sunrise to sunset every day. In the book he compares his desire to know how to read to hunger, constantly growling in his mind. In the end he is given an alphabet book from his mother and eventually gains the assistance of a mysterious man who knows how to read. This book definitely held my attention and I appreciated how Bradby captured Booker's ...more
Ignacia Lopez
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was really beautiful. I enjoyed reading it. It was about a young boy who worked in a job picking up salt. He didn't know how to read but really want to learn. One day he saw a man that looked like him, same race and color of skin just reading. As he saw him, he got lots of hope that one day he'd be able to read. One day he finally did begin with learning the alphabet. This would be great for a 1st grade reading class, it is good to start a book with young kids like this. It can inspire ...more
Taylor Stevens
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was about Booker T. Washington and his life after emancipation. He works with his papa shoveling salt all day long. It is hard work and they do not get that much food to nourish them. Even though he is hungry, he is more hungry for knowledge and to learn how to read. Book is finally free and able to read, but he has to labor all day and does not have the opportunity to read. He believes that books carry a secret with them and a sort of escape.

This book would be good to use during a
Megan Ohland
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
More Than Anything Else by: Marie Bradby is story about an African American boy who works shoveling salt. His name is Booker and he does not get a lot of food and is often hungry. He is also hungry to read a book. Along with his family, he does not know how to read or even know what the different letters sounds are. His mother gets him a book and the newspaper man helps him learn how to read by teaching him the alphabet song. This is great book to use in the classroom. I would use this book to ...more
Kaiti Pannell
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was very easy to follow as a reader. The pictures and how the words use imagery make it easy to picture yourself as the character for more of an interaction. More than Anything else is about a young boy named Booker who is a black salt worker that is fascinated with reading. He believes that books are ways to escape the world and be who you want to be. One day he sees a black man reading the newspaper to a crowd. He later goes back to that man who helps him spell out his name by using ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Around the Year i...: More Than Anything Else, by Marie Bradby 1 5 Nov 29, 2019 01:37PM  
The humble beginnings of a boy who wanted to read. 1 2 Jan 22, 2014 12:42PM  
Shared Picture Book 1 1 4 Feb 20, 2012 05:50PM  
G3: Informative book 3 4 Oct 14, 2011 09:57AM  
Children's Litera...: More Than Anything Else By Marie Bradby 1 19 Aug 30, 2011 09:20PM  

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I grew up in the suburbs on the East Coast, the sixth of seven children. I attended public schools, I was a Girl Scout, played soccer, was a majorette and played the clarinet and oboe through college. After I graduated from Hampton University, I worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines for years.

My husband and I have one child -- a teen-age son -- and I became interested in writing