Book cover: Save Me a Seatby Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Scholastic, 2016.
216 pages
Grades 3-6

Ravi Suryanarayanan just moved from India to New Jersey.

In India, life was easy. His parents were well off, he was popular at school, good at smarts, and academically bright.

When Ravi arrives in New Jersey and begins his schooling at Albert Einstein Elementary, things are not quite so easy. Expectations are different, academics are taught differently, and his teacher can’t understand his accent. Ravi goes from being top of his class to being sent to the resource room.

Joe Sylvester is in the resource room too — learning ways to cope with his APD. These two seem to have nothing in common, but they might come to learn that there is more to people than meets the eye.

This book is well suited for upper elementary students. It deals with issues of bullying — which is an issue of concern for many these days, but weaves it into a story about a young Indian immigrant and an American boy with special needs.

The story doesn’t focus entirely on these issues, but the facts of the two boys shape the entire narrative of the story.

Ultimately it is a story about perceptions/assumptions and how we can look beyond those to see who people really are.

The book only highlights a week in the life of these two boys, so it by no means tells their full stories. It could be a fun way for teachers to extend the story by asking students to imagine what life would be like for the boys after week one.

Students could also use the book to discuss issues such as making friends, avoiding stereotypes, and standing up against bullies.