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A Poem for the Dreamers


Who doesn’t love Jason Reynolds, right?!  So when I saw his newest book, For Every One, I knew I had to pick it up. Full disclosure, poetry isn’t typically my thing.  I often find it lofty, and elitist. However, this book, and Reynolds himself, is anything but.  

Reynolds began this work years ago, before he was a published writer, before winning several literary awards, before becoming a household name.  In its final form, Reynolds performed it at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers.  It is poignant and raw, and a must read for every kid who struggles to realize a dream.

Written in the form of a letter, this is for all the dreamers of the world, for everyone who has a passion that burns brightly within.  It describes Reynolds’ own journey as a writer, from his early teenage years to the present. You may think “Great, Jason Reynolds, as accomplished as he is, probably has some great advice for me!”  Yet this is not so. There were many moments of doubt and insecurity along the way. In fact, there still are. Reynolds struggles equally now as in the beginning. He writes,

AT SIXTEEN

I thought

I would’ve made it

by now.

NOW

I’m making up

what making it

means

AS I GO. (32-34)

 

Yet, there is no despair in this admission.  Instead there is a feeling of community and a message of perseverance. Reynolds urges his young readers not to give up, not to give in to the struggle, but rather to celebrate it and to use it as fuel.  Because,

Dreams don’t have timelines,

deadlines,

and aren’t always in

straight lines. (76)

 

And even successful authors like Jason Reynolds deal with self-doubt.  Young readers can take solace in this. Lastly, Reynolds points out that sometimes the dream is not all that is worth celebrating.  For dreams can be imperfect. Sometimes it is the treasures you find along the way that are the most important.

Your dream is the mole

behind your ear,

that chip in your

front tooth,

your freckles.

It’s the thing that makes

you special,

but not the thing that makes

you great.

The courage in trying,

the passion in living,

and the acknowledgement

and appreciation of

the beauty happening around

you does that. (96-97)

 

I, for one, feel that this is a message worth repeating.