Sports is the Hook

Kwame Alexander poses with teens and his book The Crossover

Author Kwame Alexander says his best award (he’s received several including the prestigious Newbery) was kids’ reaction to The Crossover.  “One kid said, ‘I don’t even like books, and I couldn’t put yours down.’”

An award winning kids’ author, Kwame Alexander, has made boys his target audience. He says, “You want to reach all kids. You want to reach librarians and teachers. But you often hear that boys don’t read or boys are reluctant readers.” Not so, with his book “The Crossover”.  Here’s what the 12-year-old, dread-locked protagonist Josh Bell says:

With a bolt of lightning on my kicks …
The court is SIZZLING.
My sweat is DRIZZLING.
Stop all that quivering.
‘Cuz tonight I’m delivering.

And, just like that, readers – even those hard-to-reach boys, are hooked.

Kwame Alexander will be appearing at the Hudson Area Library, 51 N. 5th Street, in the Community Room on Friday, May 6 at 3:30pm. The event is free, open to the public. And, unlike most author readings, Alexander will be reading in his signature blend of fast-paced verse combined with sports lingo and rhythmic raps. – Not so far removed from the vocal styling heard on kids’ iPods or the Broadway stage in this year’s runaway hit, Hamilton.

Alexander is a recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal recognizing the year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” and the 2015 Coretta Scott King Award given annually to outstanding African American authors of books for children and young adults that demonstrate both an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

“I believe that boys don’t have anything that’s relatable [in literature],” he said. “Basketball, sports is a hook. Once you get them hooked…  we’re all interested in the same things, but I think sometimes with boys you have got to…reach them a different way.”

The poet, educator and author has written 21 books, most recently “Booked” – this time featuring 12-year-old soccer player, Nick, standing up to a bully and trying to impress the girl of his dreams.

Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/
eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/
can’t nobody stop you/can’t nobody cop you…

“All the woes and wonders of the tween and teen years,” Alexander says, “…love, loss, friendship, family, school [and] homework.  I [try] to write …to show boys – and girls – that poetry [can] be cool.”

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