The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


Written by Kwame Alexander

(2014) New York, New York

Houghton Mifflin

Newbery Medal Winner 2015

Coretta Scott King Honor Book 2015

The Crossover is narrated by twelve year-old Josh Bell (a.k.a. Filthy McNasty), whose father is basketball star Charlie “Da Man” Bell. Josh and his twin brother, Jordan (JB) idolize their father, who was the captain of the Italian team that won the Euroleague Championships two years in a row. They aspire to be just like him, and are both on their school basketball team. As the story goes on, the boys run into some problems. JB gets a girlfriend and spends all of his time with her, which leaves Josh feeling left out. Josh retaliates by injuring JB during a game, which leaves Josh suspended from the basketball team until the upcoming championship game. All the while, the twins’ dad is facing a serious health scare. Throughout all of the challenges they encounter, the boys find that their bond and their love of basketball is enough to make it through.

Phrases to describe this book: vocabulary-rich, family, inspiring, serious, verse

Lexile Score: 750L

ATOS Book Measure: 4.3

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Suggested Delivery: Independent read

Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: Read the first two sections of the book aloud to the class (“Dribbling” and “Josh Bell”). Ask students to visualize the scenes in their heads, make predictions, and ask questions. This process will set students up to read the book on their own and will get them engaged in the reading. You can follow this up by introducing the basketball moves video (second link in the “Additional Resources” section) to get students more familiar with some of the basketball moves and terminology that is in the book and build schema.

During Reading: Use the double entry journals model to guide student reading. Students write in sentences that stand out to them and then write their thoughts or reactions to the sections. This will allow students to react to the reading and help their comprehension skills.

After Reading: Have students complete an exit slip that asks them to identify one theme or lesson that could be applied to their own life. This will help students relate the text to their own lives and will help strengthen their comprehension of the story.

Writing Activity: In the book, JB and Filthy’s dad has a rulebook of basketball rules that relate to life as well. If you had to create a rulebook of life rules to live by, what would you include? You can model your rulebook after the rulebook in the book, and if you would like you can include quotes from the book.

Additional Resources:

This teaching guide from Houghton Mifflin describes different activities that can be completed while reading this book, vocabulary words introduced in the book, etc. Check it out for more awesome ideas!

This video demonstrates some of the basic basketball moves that are talked about in this book. This video will help build schema for students who are not familiar with basketball terminology or moves, as they will be able to hear a description of the move and see it in action.

In this Time For Kids video, author Kwame Alexander is interviewed. He talks about his inspiration for writing and the way in which he chose to write using poetry.

Key Vocabulary:

Align- to arrange in a straight line, or to bring into cooperation or agreement with a particular group, party, or cause.

Autopsy- inspection and dissection of a body after death to determine the cause of death.

Coma– a state of prolonged unconsciousness, when it is impossible to wake the person up.

Contemplating- to consider thoroughly; think fully or deeply about.

Estranged- displaying a feeling of alienation, remove or keep at a distance, turned away from affection.

Heirloom- a family possession handed down from generation to generation.

Hypertension- an elevation of the blood pressure.

Inevitable- unable to be avoided.

Intention- the end or object intended; purpose.

Orb- a sphere or globe.

Quivering- to shake with a slight but rapid motion.

Righteous- morally right or justifiable.


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