Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield

Follow My LeaderPublished: 1957

Genre: children’s fiction

Length: 187 pages

Setting: small town USA, 1950s

Interest: It’s a book that’s recommended as a good read aloud for kids. When I saw it at a garage sale, I picked it up and put it on the to read shelf. Miss Adventure picked it for her next bedtime story.

Summary: Jimmy Carter is out playing baseball with his friends, when they find a firecracker, left by the firecracker stand set up near their ballfield. Mike Adams lights it and accidentally throws it towards Jimmy, and it goes off in his face, blinding him. Jimmy now has to adjust to being blind. He is helped out by Miss Thompson, who teaches him Braille and how to use a white cane. Jimmy is also accepted into a school to get a guide dog. With his guide dog, Leader, Jimmy is much more confident, and is able to go back to school and rejoin Scouts.

Final thoughts: This was an interesting story to read that really put you in the shoes of a blind kid. I wouldn’t put it up with the “all time great read alouds,” but Miss Adventure (and even Mr. Curiosity, as he hung out when I was reading at night) was fascinated with the story. It is a bit dated to the 50s, since Jimmy (probably 10-12 years old) is left home all day after he is blinded because his mother has to work. I enjoyed watching the bond grow between Jimmy and Leader, and Jimmy’s confidence grow as he mastered new abilities. He did not let his disability dictate what he could do, which is always a good message to hear.

Title comes from: Leader was the name Jimmy gave to his guide dog, and he followed his lead walking around in his day-to-day life.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 47/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge


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