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Look Both Ways

A tale told in ten blocks

The Fall 2020 Family Read is Look Both Ways: A tale told in ten blocks by Jason Reynolds. Below you’ll find video read alouds and activities to help you listen, think, talk, and share.

Look Both Ways is an award-winning collection of 10 short stories about middle schoolers on their way home from school. Chapters can be read separately, but they occasionally interconnect in unique ways. We bet you can’t read just one!

Jason Reynolds is the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. If you’ve read other books by Jason Reynolds, you know he has a sense of humor. His writing feels like it’s coming from real kids, but beneath the surface you’ll find many themes to generate conversations at home—bullying, friendship, grief, poverty, anxiety, empathy, tolerance, hope, and more.

For each chapter, click the button to find fun activities you can do at home, including links to the Write. Right. Rite. video series created by Jason Reynolds, and 826michigan writing prompts. Some chapters include video read alouds created by members of the University of Michigan chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha. We have plenty of copies of the book for you to check out and read at home. Request one for curbside pickup! Click the button below to download a pdf of the entire activity pack.



Because Look Both Ways is all about kids moving around a neighborhood near a school, we have two map making activities for you!

See if you can figure out where characters in the story live and visit. Add your guesses to a map based on clues from the stories. Then think about your own neighborhood and make a map with a key and compass rose.


Jason Reynolds is a master of descriptive writing. Read a few details he gives of different blocks where the characters live. Think about the good and not so good parts of these neighborhoods. Do any of the details remind you of where you live? If you had to describe your neighborhood to someone, what would you tell them? Click the button below for excerpts from the stories.


As you listen to each chapter, see if you hear this phrase and think about what it means each time!


Write a personal narrative and submit it to 826national’s project with Jason Reynolds for the chance to have your writing published. Learn more by clicking the button below. 


Look at the painting below, Innocent You, Innocent Me, by Amy Sherald. How do the details help tell you more about the person in the portrait? Click the button below to see more art and get ideas about how you can use the supplies in your kit to make a self portrait that tells more about who you are. Art is a great way to think more about your own identity, values and beliefs. 


In the acknowledgments for this book, Jason Reynolds thanks many people, including “all the colorful neighborhoods, and all the colorful kids making the journey home. I love you. I like you. I ask you: How you gon’ change the world?”

Take a little time (or a lot of time!) to think about this question. Then, write a poem or a story answering this question: How you gon’ change the world? 

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The Look Both Ways Family Read is presented in partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi Alpha, and 826michigan.

On June 3rd, 1933 at the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, five beautiful and exquisite women had a vision to charter a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Ruth Birch, Viola Goin, Mable James, Adele Jones, and Olive Manly desired to become a part of the utmost supreme and sincere sisterhood for African American college women and chose this institution because it was home of the leaders and best. Per the reason of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s founding, these five women wanted their college experience “as meaningful and as valuable as possible.” Beta Eta Chapter continues to provide service to all mankind as the 28th undergraduate chapter. She strives to set the high scholastic and ethical standard for young women on the UM campus by demonstrating academic excellence, leadership, and compassion.

On April 10, 1909 on the campus of the University of Michigan, eight Black students chartered the Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. The 5th House, or more affectionately known as “The Mother of the Midwest,” has been on the forefront of academic excellence and social change for 111 years. Our chapter motto “accept nothing questionable, nothing questionable is accepted” has reigned true for all of us here at the 5th House for years, and for years to come.

826michigan inspires school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities. We opened our doors in June of 2005. Since then, thousands of students have enriched the literary landscape with their powerful voices, boundless creativity, and infectious enthusiasm. 826 was founded on the principle that everyone deserves the opportunity to become a better writer and build a better future. We are proud to offer our student programs, events, and activities completely free of charge. 826michigan is funded by charitable grants, revenue from the Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair and Detroit Robot Factory, and contributions, both big and small, from our friends and neighbors in the community. Additionally, our corps of amazing volunteers, who do everything from writing lesson plans and tutoring to staffing our store and binding student-written books, make our programs possible.