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Ryan Hart #2

Ways to Grow Love

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Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart and her family are back in another installment of stories about a Black girl finding her way and her voice as she grows through change and challenges. In this book, Ryan finds herself waiting on lots of things -- like for her new sister to be born healthy, for her new recipes to turn out right, for that summer camp trip to go better than she fears! And of course Ryan is facing these new challenges and new experiences in her classic style -- with a bright outlook and plenty of spirit!

192 pages, Hardcover

First published April 27, 2021

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Nina Mata

27 books9 followers

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5 stars
281 (40%)
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291 (41%)
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109 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,248 reviews486 followers
April 20, 2021
5 rosy, loving stars for this second book in the Ryan Hart series. I ended up reading the two books in the series back to back so I got to enjoy extra time with the Hart family. Book #2 picks up right where Book #1 left off. Ryan finishes 4th grade and is looking forward to a fun summer. But with a new baby on the way at her house, some of her plans are not working out the way she expected. Can Ryan live up to her name and have a memorable summer? I love her interest in cooking, time at church bible camp, and especially her persistence in the summer reading challenge at her library. An especially poignant scene occurs when Ryan's grandma explains how to be a rose. Great advice for girls of all ages.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Childrens and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Camryn.
Author 4 books779 followers
May 11, 2021
I liked the first book more, but this still brought back sweet memories of being little. The camp parts made me think of the hand games and songs my sister and I would sing with the other girls we were at camp with. I also definitely got the big sister vibes in regards to being expected to be an example and having to miss out on things!

That being said, I think I liked this book less because of all the Christianity. And I usually am really irritated by atheists who get upset by mentions of faith, so I'm not sure why it bothered me here. I think because it reminded me of my own experiences growing up in the church and reasons why I don't like it anymore. Nothing bad happens or anything! There's a part where a woman from the church says that their mothers and fathers taught them how to clean up after themselves, and I was thinking... it's Portland. Do some of them have queer parents? I sound like a stereotypical liberal, but it's something I couldn't stop thinking about.

I really love how Black these stories are and how they fill a void that I didn't really have when I was younger; I loved the Ramona books and Junie B. Jones, but they didn't have scenes about getting your hair done with beads (which I wore until I was at least twelve) the way this did, and because of that, these books have such a beautiful richness. The Christian stuff was a bit much, though! I felt like it was one of my vacation bible camp special movies that we had to watch at times. And I guess it's weird to me that it went un-interrogated! But then I'm like... she's ten, why would she interrogate her faith? So this is obviously personal stuff and doesn't really reflect on the book or writing.

Anyway. If you're wondering why I wrote that all out, it's mostly for myself!
Profile Image for Afoma (Reading Middle Grade).
535 reviews279 followers
April 21, 2021
Ways to Grow Love is a sweet follow up to the first installment of the Ryan Hart series. Readers will be entertained by Ryan’s antics even as they learn how to navigate the ups and downs of relationships with grace and kindness for others. This is a perfect elementary school/young middle grade book for kids who have mixed feelings about welcoming a new sibling and will appeal to those dealing with friendship issues or learning to share their besties with new friends. Overall, very well worth reading.

Read my full review on my blog.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an eARC of this book in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for Clare.
31 reviews
May 16, 2022
I really liked this book. I liked how it showed it in a sort of timeline and how it only had like 2 or 3 time skips.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
Author 4 books42 followers
April 28, 2021
My daughters absolutely loved the first book in this series! I was so excited to get an Advanced Readers Copy from the publisher of the sequel! They are already asking for book three!!!

This cute, middle grade novel is the perfect read for young girls. Ryan Hart is a charismatic and bubbly character that just warms your heart! This story has so many gems for young children to learn from and grow.

I am just as excited as my girls to continue reading Ryan’s journey. This book is full of Black girl magic and definitely sparks joy!!!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,071 reviews5 followers
May 20, 2021
I really like these books, and can't wait for more of Ryan Hart. A bonus to the book is that the illustrations are so adorable!
Profile Image for Cindy :: leavemetomybooks ::.
913 reviews48 followers
March 8, 2021
“Ways to Grow Love” is a wonderful companion/follow up to “Ways to Make Sunshine.”

When the story starts, school has just ended, and Ryan is excited about the summer reading program at the library (LOVE), carrying on with some fun family traditions, trying new recipes, and getting ready to go to her church summer camp for the first time. And most exciting of all: she is waiting for her baby sister to be born, even though being a big sister will mean some big changes for Ryan.

I am not religious at all, and I thought the church/church camp aspect of the story was handled beautifully - strong messages about kindness and caring without being preachy.

The family dynamic is so sweet and loving but still realistic - Ryan’s brother Ray is *such* an older brother. (And the pickle situation was hilarious.) Ryan is such a relatable character for kids, and I think this is a perfect realistic fiction book for elementary school kids.

* Thank you to Bloomsbury Children’s Books and NetGalley for the ARC. Release date: 4/27/21
Profile Image for Lost in Book Land.
523 reviews94 followers
September 15, 2022

We are a little over halfway through September already somehow! I feel like thus far September has been one of my best reading months of 2022. I have been reading a ton of books and really enjoying most of my reads (I say most as there are definitely one or two I will be unhauling). One of the more recent reads I picked up, was the next book in the Ryan Hart series! There is a third book that is coming out (that I was super fortunate to be able to get an ARC of thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review, which is coming very soon)! But for today, let’s rewind a bit and talk about Ryan Hart’s adventures in book two!


Ryan is kind of entering a new stage in her life! She is going to be a big sister very soon, but the waiting is taking forever. She is also going to get to go to camp for three days this summer and she wants to do the reading challenge at her local library! Lots of big things are happening but there will also be lots of big changes. With a new little sister coming, they will be making space for her in the home, and Ryan will need to go to the library with her dad and grandmother instead of her mom all the time. It also means that some summer traditions such as spending a day at the amusement park might not happen as normal. With so many new things happening Ryan is excited but also nervous about all the changes this summer. But she will soon be a big sister and that might just be the best change of all!

I really enjoyed my time with book two in the Ryan Hart series. Revisiting Ryan and her family was lots of fun. I enjoyed getting to see Ryan have new experiences such as camp but also see Ryan try to help her mom in some interesting ways (I will not be giving any spoilers here but Ryan and her brother would like to help their mother out and they definitely achieved their goal)! I can not wait to see where the Hart family goes next!

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

**Thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinions.
Profile Image for The Keepers of the Books.
397 reviews5 followers
May 3, 2021
Ryan is looking forward to her summer vacation, but her mom’s pregnancy is throwing things off. Her mother is on bed rest, she has to quickly pick books out at the library, never gets to go to the supermarket, and her family is struggling financially. Is there room in her life to love someone new? The illustrations are well done, the plot is well written, and the character dynamics were realistic. Lessons of tolerance and learning to love others are great for young readers to learn. Readers who enjoy realistic fiction and family stories will enjoy reading this book.4 stars, Grades 4 to 7
Profile Image for Stephanie P (Because My Mother Read).
1,096 reviews40 followers
April 21, 2021
Thank you to the publisher for an advance copy of this book to review.

It was a joy to read the next installment in the Ryan Hart series and I hope there will
be many more to come. The main character is so endearing and relatable. This feel good book with its child friendly story is like a warm, comforting hug. The reading level and illustrations make this perfect for kids who are transitioning into middle grade novels or as a family or classroom read aloud.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
964 reviews
June 9, 2021
This second book in Renee Watson's Ryan Hart series is as delightful as the first. Ryan's summer doesn't go as planned--mom's on bed rest with the baby coming, grandma doesn't have enough time for the library, and her first trip to sleepover vacation bible school is just plain hard. Told with warmth and humor, Ryan's everyday adventures will appeal to kids who enjoyed Kevin Henkes The Year of Billy Miller and Beverly Cleary's Ramona books.
Profile Image for Ellen.
119 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2023
The children and I enjoyed this very much. Grandma in this story gives great wisdom to Ryan, her granddaughter, and the readers. For example, it's okay to tell people what you need or want, and our hearts can hold love for a lot of people. Looking forward to reading more in this series.
Profile Image for Wendy Garland.
592 reviews43 followers
April 23, 2021
Ryan Hart is back and takes on summer, a new baby, and changing friendship dynamics. This is a perfect feel-good, summer read.
Profile Image for Cathy.
105 reviews
February 13, 2022
A delightful story that includes relationships, integrity, kindness and diversity.
Profile Image for Courtney Lyman.
Author 18 books680 followers
November 4, 2022
Super cute book! I wish I had read the first book first, but still really enjoyable.
223 reviews
November 25, 2022
⭐️4. Such a beautiful story!! A little sister learning her place as she is becoming a middle sister, having new people enter her life (not always good) and she has such good values. I hope there will be a third book to this series 🙂
Profile Image for Adri.
934 reviews804 followers
August 8, 2021
4.5 Stars

This lower middle grade series follows in the literary tradition of Ramona and Beezus or Junie B. Jones, but for the up-and-coming generations, and with a particular focus on celebrating and uplifting young Black characters!

I think this series perfectly captures the highs and lows of childhood. It really encompasses that childlike feeling where everything is huge, everything is important, and every change feels insurmountable until you go through it. There are moments of joy, moments of confusion, moments of frustration, and most importantly moments of growth.

To see a young Black girl like Ryan learning to express herself, speak up for herself, and establish boundaries is going to be something that sticks with a lot of young readers potentially throughout their entire life. It's so important for young readers to see their stories and their experiences reflected, and to see that characters who look like them and live like them have agency, have wonder, and have the ability to make a difference.

Most importantly, this story emphasizes the importance of learning how to afford other people—and yourself—some grace, even when it's difficult. I think that's a really important lesson for young readers, and to see Ryan face her fears and confront discomfort in her life is empowering. As the title suggests, love is something that needs to be learned, cultivated, and grown, and that's what makes this installment so wonderful to read.

I have loved the first two installments in this series and I can't wait to read the next one! If you're a parent or someone who knows a young reader, you should definitely read this series with them!
Profile Image for Becky.
5,090 reviews97 followers
March 12, 2021
First sentence: Nothing is the same. Now that Mom is pregnant, everything has changed. Before school let out for summer, Ms. Colby said to my class, “Have a great summer. I hope you have fun and that it’s full of special moments. I can’t wait to hear all about it next school year.” The way summer is going, I won’t have any great or fun or special moments to share because all the summer plans we made aren’t happening.

Premise/plot: Ryan Hart is going to be a big sister! Yes, Ryan and Ray are getting a little sister. Ryan, our lovely, adorable heroine, is coping. On the one hand, a baby sister has potential certainly. On the other hand, it might bring about some CHANGES to her plans and routines. Will Ryan have the summer of her dreams if everything is baby, baby, baby all the time?

My thoughts: Ways to Grow Love is the second book in a series. Though I haven't read the first book--YET--I warmed up to the heroine quickly. Going to the library is one of Ryan's favorite, favorite, favorite things to do.
"But who can be quick in a wonderland of words and pictures? It’s not that I don’t like spending time with Grandma, it’s just that Mom and I go to the library at the end of every school year and we pick out books and have a book club, just the two of us."

EXACTLY. Soon my feelings spilled over for the rest of her family and friends. By the end of the novel it was love.

I enjoyed the family dynamics of this one--the relationships the family has with one another. I enjoyed the narration--Ryan is great!

I enjoyed the fact that faith is built into this one subtly-not-so-subtly. It's not that the novel is preachy--it isn't. It's just that faith is just as present and natural as breathing air. (In this one, Ryan goes to a Christian summer camp with some of her friends. Each cabin has to do a skit and Ryan and her friends choose the parable of the Good Samaritan for their skit.)

I loved the special father-daughter bonding. I've read two books in a row with excellent fathers--I could really love a trend like this if it continues!

“I want to write about one of the memories with my dad, but I don’t know which one to choose.” Ms. Anderson says, “Choose the one that you wish could happen again and again.”
Profile Image for Ellon.
3,331 reviews
January 23, 2021
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.


My school is currently reading Ways to Make Sunshine as a One School One Book program. The reading specialist and I (I'm the librarian) picked the book and staff, students, and families have responded so well. When I saw that there was going to be a sequel, I was so excited (as I know many of my students are as well). I checked Edelweiss and realized I could download the arc.
This book was just as good as the first! This one takes place in summer and it all about Ryan and her family preparing for a new baby. Ryan is also completing the Summer Reading Challenge at her library so I obviously loved that too! In the very first chapter, Ryan thinks "But who can be quick in a wonderland of words and pictures?" I love that!
Just like the first book, Ryan isn't perfect. I think that is what makes her such a great character (she isn't quite as mean/unremorseful in this book though). I was a little worried about the part where Ryan goes to a church camp and has to put on play about a scripture story (worried as in it might be seen as too religious) but I think it was done really well. That part just tries to give the message that we should treat others with kindness and doesn't push religion. I really hope there are more in this series because I just love Ryan, her family, and her friends.
Profile Image for Brandi Rae Fong.
1,098 reviews19 followers
June 25, 2021
I liked the first book a bit better, but this was still an strong entry in what I hope will still be an ongoing series. The camp aspect, and learning to get along with new people, and the changes of a new baby were all universal things kids will relate to...however, I was not expecting the heavy Christian camp element (not sure if I missed that in the reviews or description). It was fine, and I know tons of kids who will relate and see themselves in that situation, but as someone who is not religious, it felt a bit heavy handed.
1,509 reviews
May 4, 2021
This is book two in the Ryan Hart series. I haven't read book one, but this works as a stand alone and introduces enough of the previous book to make it make sense. Ryan is celebrating the summer with her friends and eagerly awaiting her new baby sister. She's a little disappointed though, because her mom is on bed rest and so she can't do all the great summer traditions. Ryan knows she can make the best of it though and spends her days reading, cooking, and playing with her friends. A few incidents at summer camp give her relationship struggles, but she perseveres and displays some great leadership and friendship skills. It's a very gentle read, with an emphasis on Christian values, and shows the importance of family and community. If you have a middle grader that just wants an easy read with some great lessons, this is a good series to start with.

Copy provided by NetGalley and publisher.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,033 reviews25 followers
August 11, 2021
It's the start of summer vacation, and Ryan & her brother Ray are managing their patience & cooperation as their pregnant mother is on "bed rest" and they are all excitedly expecting a new baby girl. They are occasionally asked to limit their expectations on family outings, scale back their plans that require parental assistance, etc., and kept in the positive-family-vibe zone by two attentive parents & a loving (albeit occasionally distracted/rushed) grandparent.

Meanwhile, in a realistic demonstration of mischievousness, older brother Ray is trying to make sister Ryan nervous about attending a 3-night Christian sleep-away camp, and Ryan becomes more anxious when she hears that her closest-friend-trio (Ryan, Amanda, & Kiki) will be forced to include a fourth - a girl named Red who was mean to Ryan at a birthday party the previous school year.

The word choices, pacing, grammatical construction, and focus makes this 177-page novel most appropriate for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd graders reading above grade level, especially those who live in a household where religious values are family- & home-centered.

(On page 62, Ryan describes herself as having been the "only Black girl at the pool party" but one sentence later says that her friend "Amanda's mom is white and her dad is Black. "I was the only one looking different from everybody else."" In the illustration of the girls at camp, Ryan & Amanda are nearly the same skin color, so I don't think this is an issue of darker-skinned Ryan feeling shut out by lighter-skinned Amanda, I think she meant she was the only white "guest" at Amanda's party.)

Nina Mata's b&w illustrations show happy, uniformly chubby people, all of them appearing Black except two; the white girl who Amanda invited to Christian camp with them, and one homeless man who receives the special lunch package that Ryan & her friends make & deliver (with her dad's help) to people on the street.

This is definitely a Christian-style moralistic story meant to model best behavior, including apologizing & making amends when you have let your impatience show or when you have taken humor one step too far, and dedicating yourself to uplifting the neglected & downtrodden, whether that is homeless people in general or the one girl at camp who doesn't yet have the rhymes memorized.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,671 reviews
July 12, 2021

“Grandma’s words always come back to me just when I need them. I am a rose and I have to protect my beauty, stand up for myself, even it if means being prickly.”

Summer is going to be eventful in the Hart household, to say the least. First of all, Ryan’s mother is expecting a baby, so she isn’t able to do as much with Ryan because she is on bedrest until the baby is born. Ryan misses doing things with her mother, but she does get to spend time with her grandmother and quite wonderfully, her dad.

The second major event is that Ryan is going to church camp for the first time. Ryan is excited because both Kiki and Amanda are going, too, and they get to share a cabin. Ray is trying to scare Ryan by talking about all the ghosts and bugs that Ryan will have to deal with, but Ryan’s trying to show that she isn’t scared. But then the real bombshell hits: Amanda has invited her new friend, Red, to join them at camp. Red, the girl who was so mean to Ryan at Amanda’s party. Why can’t it just be Ryan, Kiki and Amanda like it used to be?

Ryan talks to her grandma about her concerns and grandma is ready with some wisdom to help Ryan through her rough patch. “You never know what can grow between the two of you if you plant little seeds of kindness, of love. Might take a lot of nurturing and lots of patience, but things can change.” So Ryan decides to change her attitude toward Red and at first everything is going well. Ryan is even elected the Cabin Captain. But when a prank goes wrong and the girls are held responsible, problems arise. But apologies are made and punishments are extended and things go back to normal.

When Ryan comes home from camp, she’s ready to put the lessons she learned at camp into action, helping the homeless in her community. And she’s ready to be the best big sister she can be, even helping to select her little sister’s name.

A sweet, simple novel about a loving, supportive family. Ryan sometimes acts in haste (eating all the pickles from all the jars, so her mother doesn’t have to look at them anymore), but she suffers through the consequences and learns her lessons. Ryan is a great character: honest, loyal, kind and willing to stand up for herself when it’s necessary. A definite addition to my school library collection.
Profile Image for Amanda Sanders.
582 reviews2 followers
September 27, 2021
I have a problem connecting to Renee Watson's books. Maybe I am being nitpicky but there are always things that just don't feel right/belong. In this book, book 2 of Ryan Hart series, Ryan is on summer break and waiting for a baby sister to be born. She starts the summer by going to the library with her grandmother for summer reading books. She talks about what a great and prolific reader she is and then leaves the library with just 1 book even though her grandmother said she could get more. They never mention returning to the library in just 2 days for more--which is what they would have had to do if she read like my daughters did. The adults kept pointing out the negative parts of being a big sister instead of the good parts. Everyone treated the mom like she was a delicate, fragile flower instead of just a pregnant woman. Many women exercise/run right up until the end. A woman just ran a 5:25 mile in her 9th month. Personally, I thought it was harder after the baby came out. At least I had my arms free while carrying the baby when I was pregnant. In back-to-back sentences the author says "me, Ray and Amanda get home." "Ray and I put our bikes..." Why use me in the first one? Get the grammar right all the time or do the Junie B excuse for bad grammar. During a day of fun, Ryan and her friends took all the water balloons in a game. She called this a strategy. I think the person in charge should have covered this under rules and it wasn't a "good strategy" it was just rude. The camp songs mentioned were old and tired. I have heard newer better ones. The author could have taken the time to research some newer ones. The adult falling for the trick at camp wasn't feasible. The antagonist was too easily apologetic and forgiven. Problems aren't that easy to solve realistically. On the plus side, the author does have a writing style that is engaging and the pickle segment was adorable.
Profile Image for Laurie Hnatiuk.
372 reviews
April 21, 2021
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher Bloomsbury Publishing for a digital ARC of this title to read.

When we left Ryan (Ways to Make Sunshine), she had moved to a smaller house due to financial concerns, and her mother was pregnant. She found sunshine in some uncomfortable situations, and things were going well. In the second book, Ms. Watson allows readers to see how Ryan has to focus on patience. We see Ryan waiting for the baby to arrive, waiting to go to her church camp, waiting to see her friend Amanda who no longer lives close by and waiting to try out new recipes.
All of these events are made special with Watson's writing. She has this uncanny ability to take all these everyday events and makes them relevant not just for Ryan but her readers too. We see how waiting for the baby has changed her routines and she has less time with her mom, and she has to adapt. At camp, we see Ryan make mistakes while taking on a leadership role, owning her actions and accepting the consequences from those mistakes. It is simply everyday life, and we want to know what is going to happen next. She takes those activities that we all do and allows us to make those connections and bring back memories.

I enjoyed this second book in the series and thought the second book was stronger than the first (although I liked it as well) - the plotline seemed tighter, and we got to know Ryan a little more. Nina Mata's black and white illustrations in the eARC capture the joy of family life, whether it was reading a story or the fun of getting soaked with a water balloon. I love how the series has focused on the importance of names and how this continues by involving Ray and Ryan naming the soon to arrive baby sister.

With the passing of Beverly Clearly, who I know influenced and inspired Renée Watson growing up, I believe Beverly Clearly's character Ramona is living on in an updated modern version with a girl named Ryan. This new series is a fabulous entry for the early middle-grade readers, and I look forward to the next "Way" to read about Ryan and her adventures.

Profile Image for Barbara.
13k reviews267 followers
May 6, 2021
I've seen several comments comparing this book to Ramona Quimby, but other than the intended age group audience and the Portland, Oregon, setting, I don't really see the similarities. Perhaps I just need to refresh my memory. That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy this or see it as having strong possibilities for fourth and fifth grade readers. They'll surely relate to the main character, Ryan Hart, a smart Black girl who is heading into fifth grade and having to practice patience. With her mother needing to take it easy while awaiting the birth of a daughter and her father working quite a lot, Ryan can't wait for the baby to arrive. But her feelings are understandably conflicted since she hopes the baby won't change too many things. Already, the family is being frugal with money and cutting costs. She's also busy reading for prizes at the local library but unsure about her status with one friend who seems to have found another friend to bring into their inner circle. Ryan isn't sure about this girl, Red, because of her behavior at a birthday party. As it turns out, she's right to have concerns since Red doesn't own up to pulling a prank at church summer camp, and the other three girls involved--Ryan, Amanda, and KiKi--get in big trouble. Ryan shows a lot of leadership at the camp and learns a lesson or two about empathy, something she brings home with her. She decides to purchase fruit and bake muffins for care packages for the homeless in the community and then distribute those along with her father and friends. It's clear that Ryan has a big heart and cares about others, but she also has a mischievous side. Recommend this one to readers in search of relatable books and characters and those who appreciate someone who has a positive outlook on life.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews

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