The Book Reviews – Website

June 5, 2010

Ray Charles

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Ray Charles

Author: Sharon Bell Mathis

Page Length: 40

Reading Level: 3.5

Genre: Biography

REVIEW: Ray Charles’ life is condensed in this easy-to-read biography that touches upon most of his positive years. Ray Charles was a man who rose above adversity and trial to become one of the most influential and talented musicians of the 20th century.

From his ability to race other sighted-boys in the school yard to his gift of “perfect pitch”, Ray Charles had many talents with which is used to his advantage. His beginnings were a struggle and as well as lonely, but Charles made the most of what life tossed his way.

Ray Charles was able to play numerous instruments, learned how to read using Braille, championed the cause of those with hearing loss and Sickle Cell Anemia, and braved the then world of racism and intolerance in America.

This book is a very simplified version of Ray Charles’ life, especially when compared to the recent movie version that came out in 2004 titled “Ray”. None-the-less, it is a quick read that highlights a man’s achievements despite his disability. Many lessons can be learned by the great things this Ray Charles has accomplished in the midst of his inability to see. The book is written in present tense and at times floats between the present time and Ray Charles’ past.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: biography, facts, sequence of events, present tense writing

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Ray” (2004), “The Blues Brothers” (1980)

MUSIC CONNECTIONS: “Georgia on My Mind” (1960), “Hit the Road Jack” (1961)

RELATED WEBSITES: (Teacher’s Guide)

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton


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