Summary of Michael’s Golden Rules:
The team has two outs. The bases are loaded. Jonathan is up at bat, nervously waiting for the next pitch. The ball whizzes passed him. He strikes out. Even though his team members try to assure him it is okay, Jonathan wants to run from the dugout. After the game, he walks home with his best friend, Michael, and his Uncle Jack. Jonathan is discouraged because they lost the game. Uncle Jack encourages him that the game is not about winning or losing. Instead, it is about how you play. Jonathan is still not convinced, so Uncle Jack agrees to share his golden rules of baseball with him:
1. Know the game.
2. Pay attention to the coach at all times.
3. Know your opponent.
4. Be a team player.
5. Practice a winning attitude.
6. Find out what you do best.
7. Find out what you need to work on.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
9. Learn from your mistakes.
10. Have fun!
The two friends enjoy an afternoon trading and looking at baseball cards. As they talk about the great players, they remember the golden rules of baseball. The boys decide to go outside to practice what they need to improve on because there is a big game the following day.
The next day, Jonathan keeps those golden rules at the forefront of his mind. For instance, he acts as a team player, first by helping someone out and then forgiving a team mate for rude comments. He listens to his coach's advice while at bat, resulting in a base hit! Even though there are some mistakes in the game, Jonathan keeps a winning attitude. Unfortunately, his team does not win. This time, his perspective is much different. Jonathan has learned not only to play a better game but also to have a great outook.
I love books like Michael’s Golden Rules. Deloris Jordan (author of Salt in His Shoes and Michael Jordan’s mother) does a wonderful job depicting a common experience in childhood sports. The protagonist is discouraged because he is not a strong player. He struggles with a negative attitude and even with a little bullying. I appreciate how it is an adult that comes along side Jonathan to mentor and encourage him. The author does a wonderful job unfolding the character development and depicting Jonathan’s positive changes, despite obstacles. These types of examples are essential for helping children learn how to problem solve their individual circumstances. Roslyn M. Jordan, the illustrator, captures well the tensions, setbacks, and victories on the field as well as the personal interactions. I highly recommend this book for ages 7-11.