2015 Diversity Reading Challenge

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Stop whatever you’re doing and RUN to the nearest bookstore and grab a few copies of Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

To be sure, often when books are highly rated and win many awards I am skeptical. Sometimes award winners don’t thrill me. Call me a cynic but sometimes award winners are like medicine: you know they are good for you but sometimes they are hard to take. The Crossover is an EXCEPTION.

Not since Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (SWOON) have I been this moved by a book. I loved The Crossover from beginning to end. Every reader for every book right? Well this is the book for every reader. If you’re African American, you’ll love this book. If you love sports you’ll love this book. If you have a sibling, you’ll love this book. If you’re a middle grade tween reader and you’re struggling to find your place in the world, this book is for you. If you just love a gosh dang great story, this book is for you!

“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,”

I cannot express how much I love this book! From the rhyming opening lines of the tale, to the relationship between the twin brothers and their father, I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love. Alexander’s story is equally funny, tender, relevant, and appealing to everyone. I don’t know much about basketball but Alexander makes you feel like you are on the court with these kids dribbling along with them.

The only thing I hated about the book was that it ended. I could have read this book forever. In fact this is a book that you will re-read again and again.

It’s just that good.

The Crossover is  a Diversity Reading Challenge book and would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone. EVERYONE!

Kwame Alexander, please keep writing books! Also? Call me. (fainting)

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Children

Taking the Mystery out of Black History Month: Brown Girl Dreaming

Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard my about my love for Brown Girl Dreaming?

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve reviewed the book, talked about what a FANGIRL fool I acted in front of her. TWICE.  If you’re looking for a book for 9-12 year olds, this is the one. Don’t let the prose style scare you away. Prose is just a fancy way to say, words on a page. After a while, you catch the flow, and much like iambic pentameter, you just naturally flow with the rhythm.

Young readers will learn how tough it was for young Jackie to assimilate down South in the 60s after she was used to behaving a certain way in the North. Most people forget to include a child’s perspective in the Civil Rights movement, but here it is. Easy to understand. Why can’t we go anywhere we want? Why do we have to walk with our eyes downcast? These are the questions that children want answered.

Woodson speaks to them in a way that they can understand that doesn’t belittle their intelligence and that is also beautiful.

In the stores downtown

we’re always followed around

just because we’re brown.

Beautiful, right?

Add this to your Diversity Reading Challenge!



A New Jacqueline Woodson Title I’m Excited About

I love to read books by authors of color. Even more than that, I love to read books by authors of color ABOUT children of color! To be sure, a nice historical fiction book is ok, but why not make The Hunger Games main character a girl of color. Any color?

But I digress.  One of the authors I enjoy is Jacqueline Woodson.

jacqueline woodson


I accidentally ran into her at a posh BEA party last year. I reckon she doesn’t get recognized too much so I was all like OMG Can I have a pic???? As you can see, she wasn’t too keen on me but whatever. I LOVE her.

She’s the kind of author who writes for kids who want to use their brains. Kids will use their brains if you give them something that meets their interest.  I found a picture book about bullying of hers last year that made me weep.  WEEP. It’s called Each Kindness.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.

See? Kids GET this stuff. They realize sometimes belatedly what they should have done differently. And maybe next time they’ll get it right. This title speaks to everyone.

The crazy thing about Woodson is that she’s written TONS of books for kids of all ages and many of them are award winners. Probably you’ve heard of Hush.

When she is twelve, Toswiah and her older sister Cameron have to leave the place they’ve always known, change their identities and leave no trace of their past life. Toswiah becomes Evie. Her sister becomes Anna. In the new city, they have to reinvent themselves and figure out how to move on when just about everything they ever loved is behind them.

I could go on and on.  I recently snagged an advanced copy of her latest book, which happens to be an autobiography, called Brown Girl Dreaming. It’s an autobiography written in verse. It incorporates elements of what was going on in the civil rights movement when she was born and growing up.  It’s compelling. I can’t wait to finish it.

If you’ve not heard of Jacqueline Woodson, add her to your repertoire. It’s smart reading.