In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander

copyright date: March 2014
primarily marketed for: middle grades (4th-7th)

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book. 

I was hoping it would be worthy of recommendation to some of the less enthusiastic readers in my classroom.  I guess I did not expect much beyond an engaging basketball story and a fast-paced poetic rhythm. 

Not only does The Crossover by Kwame Alexander deliver on all aforementioned accounts, but it is also a beautiful story of the bond between a father and son, the power of cultural history to shape a person, and the evolution of brotherly love as young men come of age. 

It is the story of 8th grader Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan, who have inherited their father’s talent for basketball.  On the court, they are a lethal combination, teaming up to lead their team to the championship.  Off the court, Josh struggles with growing distance between his brother and him since a girl has come into the picture. 

Josh’s father’s influence in his life also plays a large role in the story, from the nickname his father gives him, to the music his father exposes him to, and the rules for basketball (and life) his father teaches him.  Josh is both embarrassed by his father, and he yearns to make his father proud.

Josh’s story is that of an average teenage boy.  However, it is anything but average.  There is depth in the verse that tells his story, depth that only poetry this well crafted could offer.

Josh Bell worked his way into my heart, and he is not leaving anytime soon.


  1. I'm requesting this right now for my classroom. Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't heard of this title before, and I'm always on the lookout for titles my 19 boys would enjoy.

  2. I liked this more than I thought I would, and it was snapped up right away by a student, so we'll see how he liked it!