Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ways to Make Sunshine (Ryan Hart, #1)” as Want to Read:
Ways to Make Sunshine (Ryan Hart, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ways to Make Sunshine

(Ryan Hart #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,915 ratings  ·  457 reviews
Ryan Hart loves to spend time with her friends, loves to invent recipes, and has a lot on her mind—school, self-image, and family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means changes like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. Because Ryan is all about trying to see th ...more
Hardcover, 177 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ways to Make Sunshine, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
kate ♥ I think it was maybe inspired by some of her childhood, but I don't think it's a memoir :)…moreI think it was maybe inspired by some of her childhood, but I don't think it's a memoir :)(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,915 ratings  ·  457 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ways to Make Sunshine (Ryan Hart, #1)
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
quick, cute, lighthearted, and realistic, ways to make sunshine is a step forward for little black girls with dreams of changing the world someday.

so many of the scenes between ryan and her brother, ray, reminded me of my brother when i was younger. being the smaller sister of 2 years, i would always follow him around, want to be where he was at, hang out with him and his friends, beat him at games and races, and basically annoy him. the siblings relationship made me nostalgic and think of our c
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a lovely book with a wonderful protagonist! Ryan Hart is a great friend, loyal and supportive. Her father's post-office got closed and he lost his job. Now he works nights and is often tired. There is also less money, no second car, and the whole family moves into a different, smaller house. It isn't easy to cope with these changes. Luckily, Ryan has her family to remind her that her biggest talent isn't cooking, although she is pretty good at inventing new dishes, her biggest talent is bei ...more
I am the Lou Grant of children’s literary reviewers. I hate spunk. That’s kind of a blanket statement for what often turns out to be a fairly nuanced issue, so I’ll scale it back a bit. I hate unearned spunk. Children’s books are just rife with the stuff, overflowing with cheery aphorisms and chipper jolts of self-esteem. Spunk, as far as I can tell, is nine times out of ten just a more upbeat form of didacticism, often considered preferable to boring browbeating fare. But there are exceptions t ...more
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a girl called Ryan (who's been teased for her name even by her teachers and everyone alike). This is the story of Ryan who's the one everyone expects to understand and do things what girls are supposed to do.

She has lots to say and have a mind of her own amidst the ones who doesn't care to listen and want to listen maybe because she's just a little girl.

I love the writing. It's hard-hitting at times. It's just perfect for beginners and to be read out loud.

The story also rev
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

I don't normally read middle grade novels but I've fallen in love with Renee Watson's writing and want to support her in whatever she writes. WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE is about a young girl named Ryan. The blurb on the back says it's like if you were reading a book about Ramona Quimby, only black-- but Ramona was always annoying and kind of bratty, in my opinion. Ryan is such a strong, sweet girl who loves her family and is constantly pushin
Jul 19, 2020 added it
Shelves: arc, 2020, reviewed
Ways to Make Sunshine, in short, is such a heartwarming middle grade story full of Black joy. It follows nine-year-old Ryan Hart in her day to day life, and while this book doesn't necessarily have an actual 'plot'—it's very slice-of-life—I enjoyed every bit of it! It made me smile so much and reading it was such a breeze.

Grandma turns me around to face her. "Baby girl, you are beautiful. No matter if your hair is straight or not. How you wear your hair is your choice and no matter what you choo
May 20, 2020 added it
This was really cute and really took me back to being little. I loved seeing a Black little girl in this position.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
If Renée Watson's YA novels are a bit too serious for you, try her series about Ryan Hart, which began in 2020 with Ways to Make Sunshine. A fourth-grader at Vernon Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, Ryan has a nice life. She and her older brother Ray get along well most of the time. Their parents work hard but are happy, though Dad recently lost his job at the post office, so finances are tighter than they once were. That's the subject at hand when Ryan and Ray arrive home from school one a ...more
Cassie Thomas
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The whole time I was reading I kept thinking this was written to be the next great series that kids can relate to, and then I read that it’s Renee’s version of Ramona Quimby series and I couldn’t be more excited. It ended where I have so many questions, but I know that Ryan’a stories are just beginning.

There were so many amazing themes intertwined, the most of all being to love who you were born to be.

My favorite quote from the ARC: “How you wear your hair is your choice and no matter what you
Yes! Just YES to everything about this first in series title! In under 175 pages, Renee Watson gives young readers a main character that they will want to get to know better. Ryan is the kind of kid you want to be friends with and the struggles she faces are just normal, every day kind of struggles that kids will relate too. The story line has depth and heart, which we could use more of for the younger readers! This would make a fantastic read aloud and/or book club selection as well! Definitely ...more
Shaye Miller
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
This sweet little early chapter book was such a fun addition to my reading week. Ryan Hart is the youngest in her family. That’s right, HER family. She was named Ryan because she is to become a great leader. And her parents don’t shy away from reminding her of this fact whenever appropriate. At the opening of this story, Ryan’s family is facing some major life changes after her father lost his job with the USPS (how appropriate, considering our current situation), so they will be moving to a new ...more
Kelly Hager
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is seriously the literary equivalent of sunshine. I had the best time reading it and I'm sure I had a smile on my face 99% of the time. (There were also times I felt sad, because it's a realistic book. But it was mostly the most positive reading experience possible.)

This book is also laugh-out-loud funny. There's a part where Ryan, her brother and their friends are in a park and something goes very wrong and I laughed so hard that I'm pretty sure I could be heard in other apartments. 

Lindsey Stoddard
Loved this! So glad it’s going to be a series!
Afoma (Reading Middle Grade)
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Renee Watson’s Ways to Make Sunshine is an absolutely delightful early middle-grade book with a memorable protagonist. I would recommend this book to any who enjoy strong female leads, books about female friendships, and heartwarming sibling dynamics. This book also excellently handles the issue of a family dealing with financial difficulties, and finally, it reminds Black girls that they are not their hair. Highly recommend, and can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Read my full review on
Beth Anne
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-aloud, 2020
Read aloud to all my kids, and we just loved this book! This is a beautiful, real life story, featuring a Black girl and her family. They deal with real life together - problems with friends, moving, new jobs, being frugal, weather cancelling plans, sibling issues, race issues, and most of all, what it means to focus on yourself and what you can control. I really hope this ends up being a series, but if not it has helped me to find a new author and I need to read more of her works!
Katrina Tangen
I don’t know why anyone is comparing this to Ramona—she’s not a trouble-maker and it’s not at all funny. I was really confused about her age for awhile. Between the Ramona comparison and the pictures (which are super cute!), I thought she was in like 2nd grade, not 4th. Which made it even more jarring that the voice does not sound like a kid at all—too formal and the descriptions are too writerly.
Richelle Robinson
*Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's Books for my free review copy*

After reading and loving Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson, I am making it my business to read more of her books. I watched the television show Ramona when I was younger so this is a nice and refreshing spin on the character.

This book doesn't have a traditional plot but the general consensus is how to be a positive person. Taking risks. Believing in yourself. How to overcome adversity. It also has some nice life lessons
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute delight. The comparison to Ramona is apt, but Ryan Hart is her own inimitable force. Love, love, love.
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Delightful. My daughters loved Ryan and her family.
Kerry (lines i underline)
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 ⭐️

A dear little book that felt like sneaking a glimpse into a real family - their challenges, their connection, their sweet rituals, and their love. Ryan is a character I think lots of children will relate to in different ways. I’ll definitely want to read more in this series. The family dynamic may appeal to fans of The Vanderbeekers.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
"If we can't go to the parade,
let's have one here."

I saw this quote from Ways to Make Sunshine today, and I had to read this book.

Ryan Hart is the perfect character in the perfect story for these unsettling times. Ryan's family is moving to a smaller house. Ryan's dad, who had lost his job, has just accepted a new job, but the new job is for less money. Ryan and her brother, Ray, have frequent, petty squabbles. Sometimes Ryan and her friends have difficulties. Should Ryan obey her mother and ke
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Grade: B-
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Children's in exchange for an honest review.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I've been hearing about this book since I still interned at Bloomsbury, and my interest was sky-high. It's been pitched as a modern, Black-girl Ramona Quimby, which is something I am absolutely here for. I devoured the Ramona books over and over again as an elementary schooler, and I love the idea of young girls today having a new version of her.
There are sibling squabbles and
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ways to make sunshine follows the story of Ryan Hart , who loves to cook , has an annoying brother and hates it because she has to move to a new home .

Ways to make sunshine will be a perfect read for middle grade fans .

Why ?
🌟Best friend drama
🌟Moving out
🌟Finding a talent
🌟Socially awkward & Lovable MC
🌟 Gorgeous artworks of the family.

I thank Edelweiss and Bloomsbury Children's books for granting me with an e-ARC for reviewing. This has not affected my opinions
Cait Hutsell
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sweet book about finding where you fit, how to be brave, how to deal with family and change. Great upper elementary or lower middle grades book.
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Very cute! The Ramona comparison is very apt. Not quite as funny as Ramona but very realistic and heartfelt friend and family problems and joys.
Lost in Book Land
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Welcome Back!

My Goodreads currently-reading shelf is overflowing with finished books that I need to get a review up for and yet here I am reading more! So when my currently-reading shelf actually turns to a crazy high number like 100 its all my own fault and I will have actually read like 75 or more of those and just never wrote the review. This week alone I have finished like four books or graphic novels and then started like three others. So here I am finally sitting down and writing the revie
Heather Moore
Feb 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
I’ve heard such rave reviews about this book that I planned to read it aloud to my 13 year old, but a friend who recently read it talked me out of it. While glad she did, I now realize that this is a book where expectations need to be managed. This is aimed at 2nd-5th graders with no major plot-defining moment. It’s about a girl navigating her everyday life of going to school, moving to a smaller house, and fighting (good grief, too much bickering) with her brother. I really appreciated some of ...more
Mary Lee
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much, and I can't wait for more in the series. You know how there are some book characters you can imagine having as a friend? Book families that you love being part of, even if it's just through the pages? That's the kind of book this is, that's the kind of character Ryan is. I originally had this book tagged African American, but it's more like what the book jacket blurb says -- a more modern and uniquely Renee Watson version of Ramona Quimby. What I really need to do is cr ...more
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, popsugar-2021, j
A wonderful grade school book about a middle class black family. This book is one of those that I wish I had read more of when I was in grade school - discusses race, SES, family dynamics, friendship and bullying. I feel like as a kid I also read so many books that had white main characters :( SO MORE BOOKS WITH NONWHITE PROTAGONISTS PLEASE, for all the POC kids out there growing up and wanting to be represented, thanks~

I read this for work, but it also fits well into this year's popsugar readin
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it

This was really cute! I really enjoyed reading about Ryan's relationships with her family and friends and about her love for cooking! There's a lot in here about beauty standards for Black children, specifically in terms of hair and skin colour, which I thought was handled really well. Overall, this is something I'd recommend for children around the age of 8.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's and Netgalley for providing an e-copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions ex
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington
  • Prairie Lotus
  • When You Trap a Tiger
  • What Lane?
  • When Stars Are Scattered
  • Fighting Words
  • A Wish in the Dark
  • We Dream of Space
  • Show Me a Sign
  • Primer
  • Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
  • Efrén Divided
  • Before the Ever After
  • Our Friend Hedgehog: The Story of Us
  • Imaginary Friend
  • Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger, #1)
  • Three Keys (Front Desk, #2)
  • Land of the Cranes
See similar books…
Renée Watson is the author of the children’s picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, June 2010), which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.

Renée’s one woman show, Roses are Red, Women are Blue, debuted at N

Other books in the series

Ryan Hart (2 books)
  • Ways to Grow Love (Ryan Hart, #2)

Related Articles

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
50 likes · 6 comments
“Here's the thing about ice cream. No matter how sweet it is, no matter if it's given to you even when you aren't supposed to have it, no matter if you're told you can come back for seconds—it doesn't take away the sadness.” 0 likes
“But most of all I love Tillamook’s Marionberry Pie ice cream. The rich vanilla ice cream is mixed with fresh Oregon marionberries and big chunks of piecrust. I always eat it slow so it can last and last.” 0 likes
More quotes…