Book Club – Book of the Month – February

 

Cover of The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Our tween-teen’s book pick for February is the award-winning book, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Since basketball season is in full swing, our teens thought it’d be fun to dive into a book about basketball. Interestingly, although there is a major basketball phenomenon going on throughout the book, there are various off-the-court situations driving the story as well. What is interesting is the author’s unique way of tying these life situations into the game of basketball through the thoughts, words, and actions of the characters. He uses phrases like, “In this game of life” … “If you miss enough of life’s free throws” … “Never let anyone lower your goals” … Etc. The parallels between basketball and life is incredibly amazing and that is what makes this book a recommended read for both basketball and non-basketball fans.

OUR TEENS:

If you’re a basketball fan, you’ll enjoy reading this book. Here’s why:

I’m a huge basketball fan so I am definitely feeling this book. The book is so smooth, it’ll pull you into the games without you even realizing it. Josh’s first-hand narrative of each game is so descriptive and intense, it’ll have you on edge. As players drive the ball up and down the court, he describes every dribble, pass, rebound, block, steal, shot, and dunk to the point where you feel connected to the game. At the same time, you’re also absorbing the energy from the audience. You get first-hand view of their screams, hollers, cheers, laughs, chants, and trash-talking. You also get to experience their pain and anger, their fear and frustration, their anxiety and excitement, their victory and defeat … you truly get soaked in and feel as if you’re a part of the entire experience.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where I felt so connected to the characters. I’ve always felt the excitement and energy from watching and playing basketball games. I couldn’t have imagined that reading about it would give me similar experience. The book is upbeat, full  of twists and turns. Many moments I never saw coming, until it hit me like a brick. Ouch! Whew! This is what makes the book so exciting and intense! I highly recommended it for all, but especially for those who love basketball.Gabe, 15 

If you’re not a basketball fan, you’ll still enjoy reading this book. Here’s why:

This would have been one of the last books I would have chosen because I am not a basketball fan. However, I soon realized that the book has more to do with life off the court than on. The book consists of small poems collectively working together to create a storyline. We meet Josh Bell, a middle school basketball phenom with great confidence, skills and potential.  We also meet his twin brother Jordan who also has great skills on the court and shoots like lightning out on the court. The twins are teammates, pals, best buddies on and off the court, through thick and thin, until a girl comes between. Their brotherly bond is almost totally shattered, but strangely and surprisingly another family tragedy reconnects and seals their bond.

Life outside the court is my favorite part of the book. I particularly love reading the interactions among the Bell family members. Their close family ties are depicted in their everyday interactions with one another. No matter what trials and tribulations they face, their bond remains strong and tight. It makes me want to  love on my family even more. The book is filled with valuable life lessons and family values that I think everyone will enjoy.  It’s a great family read for all. Gabby, 16

BOOK OVERVIEW:

“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,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013). Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. Leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.

By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

8 Must-Read Children’s Books to Celebrate Black History Month

28 Days - Moments in Black History

Take Your Child to the Library Day (TYCLD) is “an international initiative that encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local library.” My kids and I look forward to this day each year. Needless to say, we went this year and had a blast!  Moreover, while in the midst of all the fun activities, we stumbled upon a gem that we just can’t keep to ourselves. The gem I’m referring to is the book 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World (for ages 4-10 years) by Charles R. Smith.This book highlights prominent, influential African Americans of the past and present and their contributions and achievements that have helped shape history. 

One major feature of the book I particularly like is how it designates each day of February to a specific historical figure, fact, or event. The daily breakdown of information makes it shorter and easier for younger kids to grasp. It also gives them something to look forward to the following day. You may even want to take it a bit further and ask your child, students, etc., to guess who or what they think will be highlighted the following day. The book is written in a way that allows for that. This incredible feature is bound to raise much anticipation and enthusiasm throughout the book. 

Whether you decide to read the entire book through with your kids or simply read each section daily, this book will take you on an incredible journey through black history that will help you and your young readers better understand, reflect on, and celebrate the people and moments in African American history that changed the world. As always, we love hearing your thoughts on children’s books. Feel free to leave a comment or two about this books or other books you are reading to help you reflect on or celebrate Black History Month. Happy Reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids

BONUS BOOKS: SEVEN ADDITIONAL BLACK HISTORY MONTH BOOKS WE THINK ARE ABSOLUTELY WORTH CHECKING OUT . . .

Heroes in Black History - True Stories

1.  Heroes in Black History: True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave Jackson & Neta Jackson (Authors) 

Book Synopsis:  Drawn from the lives of key Christians from the past and present, Heroes in Black History is an inspiring collection of 42 exciting and educational readings that highlight African American Christians through a short biography and three true stories for each hero. Whether read together at family devotions or alone, Heroes in Black History is an ideal way to acquaint children ages six to twelve with historically important Christians while imparting valuable lessons. Featured heroes include Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, William Seymour, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King Jr., and many more. Includes brand new material as well as content from previous Hero Tales editions. (Ages 6-12 years)

One Hundred and One Read Aloud Stories

2. One-Hundred-and-One African-American Read-Aloud Stories by Susan Kantor (Author)

Book Synopsis: The newest volume in the popular Read-Aloud series, this engaging collection features the best African-American short stories and excerpts to read to children in under ten minutes. The diverse tales, selected for their rich histories, spiritual writings and adventurous characters, offer the perfect bed-time — or any other time — activities for parents, grandparents, siblings or babysitters. The book includes 50 beautiful drawings that capture the spirit of these tales, legends, lore and fables. The narratives are faithful adaptations of the oral and written stories passed down through the centuries. They include Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Paula Fox. (Ages 9 and up)

The Bus Ride that Changed History

3. The Bus Ride that Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks by Pamela Duncan Edwards (Author), Danny Shanahan (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: In 1955, a young African-American woman named Rosa Parks took a big step for civil rights when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. The bus driver told her to move. Jim Crow laws told her to move. But Rosa Parks stayed where she was, and a chain of events was set into motion that would eventually change the course of American history. Fifty years later, The Bus Ride That Changed History retraces that chain of events by introducing the civil rights movement one idea at a time. Take a ride through history with this unique retelling of what happened when one brave woman refuses to stand up so that a white passenger could sit down. (Ages 4-8 years)

The Palm of My Heart

4. The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children by Davida Adedjouma (Author),  R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: Black is dark, dark is lovely, lovely is the palm of my heart, and my heartbeats are filled with joy. When children are encouraged to celebrate their lives — their joys, their influences, their hopes — the results are pure poetry. Honest, wise, and inspiring, each of the twenty poems in this dazzling collection resounds with the unique rhythms of life, as seen through the eyes of African American children. (Ages 5 and up)

Music of Our Lord's Holy Heaven

5. Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven by Gloria Pinkney (Author), Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Myles Pinkney (Illustrators)

Book Synopsis: Tapping a wellspring of comfort, inspiration, and renewal, Gloria Pinkney has gathered twenty-two African-American spirituals and reverential songs which her husband, Jerry Pinkney, and sons Brian Pinkney and Myles Pinkney have lovingly illustrated. (Ages 4-10 years)

Moses - Harriet Tubman

6. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses. (Ages 5-8 years)

Richard Wright and the Library Card

7. Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller (Author), R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Book Synopsis: As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This touching account tells of his love of Blareading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make Richard’s dream a reality. An inspirational story for children of all backgrounds, Richard Wright and the Library Card shares a poignant turning point in the life of a young man who became one of this country’s most brilliant writers, the author of Native Son and Black Boy. (Ages 7-10 years)

 

 

 

Book Club – Book of the Month – February

Brown Girl Dreaming2

Our February tween/ teen book club selection should come as little to no surprise. We’ve highlighted this book in the past and hinted that it would be a future book club selection. The future is now, and we’ve selected the award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming (ages 10 and up) by Jacqueline Woodson as our February book club book of the month. 

We’ve chosen this book because it ties in well with our Black History Month theme . . . with an added bonus. The book does an excellent job delivering a very descriptive view of Woodson’s life experiences, growing up in the South and the North during the 1960’s and 1970’s, through a very unique, childlike perspective; one that has the tendency to grip young readers. 

Additionally, there’s an underlying, added dose of inspiration depicted through Woodson’s zeal for writing and storytelling, despite the fact that she has struggled in and through school. We find that particularly uplifting and empowering to young aspiring and/or struggling readers and writers (as well as adults). Hope you’ll enjoy reading this brilliant piece of children’s literature as much as we have.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. Be sure to share your thoughts about this book or other books you are currently reading. Happy Reading!

By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids