DC Family Reads

DC Family Reads

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Newbery Award.

Celebrating 100 years of the Newbery Award with DC Family Reads. Check out this title in Overdrive, no holds, no waiting.

DC Family Reads is a DC Public Library literacy program that complements DC Reads, a program for adults and teens. DC Family Reads includes books that a family can enjoy reading, discussing and doing related activities together. Our next DC Family Reads features The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal. This DC Family Reads pick is part of our system-wide celebration of the centennial of the John Newbery Award. Unlimited eBook & Audiobook copies are available for download on OverDrive from Feb. 1 - 28." See below for related information and activity ideas for children and families.

DC Family Reads will get you excited for this year's Winter Challenge from Jan. 3 - Mar. 31.

Don't have a library card? Get one online and begin reading today?

About the Book

"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.

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. 

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times Bestselling author of 35 books, including SWING, BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI, co-authored with James Patterson, BOOKED, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious UK Carnegie Medal, The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book, THE UNDEFEATED, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and, his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he founded the publishing imprint VERSIFY, and opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. He is the writer and executive producer of THE CROSSOVER TV series on Disney plus. 

Discussion Questions 

  1. Josh has many identities in this book - son, brother, basketball player, poet, and friend. At times he likes his nickname “Filthy McNasty,” but at other times he wants to be called “Josh.” How is Josh different from “Filthy McNasty”? Is either personality dominant? 
  2. Mr. Bell’s advice to his sons comes through in several places, but particularly in all of the Basketball Rules. How do the rules connect to the characters in the book? How do they connect to your family?
  3. Teens are often accused of caring only for themselves. How does Josh both fit and go against that stereotype? In what ways are teenagers and their worlds more complex than adults give them credit for?
  4. How does each parent shape Josh’s values, concerns, interests, etc.? How does his brother?
  5. In thinking of siblings or even good friends, how do brothers and sisters (or friends) both challenge us to be more than we are and also keep us in our place?
  6. How does Mr. Bell’s health struggle affect the family in both direct and subtle ways? 
  7. How do extracurricular/outside-of-school activities create possibilities for growth as well as challenges we must learn to overcome? How do these areas of growth and challenge affect the characters in the book?
  8. Josh encounters many types of loss throughout the book, and in the final section, “Overtime,” Josh struggles with his most painful loss. How does he process the conflicting emotions that come with each loss? 
  9. Kwame Alexander said the following in an interview with ESPN’s TrueHoop TV: “The idea is that you want to win but you want to do it in such a beautiful way. You don’t just want to win. You want to win with wit, with cleverness, with magic. . . . That energy is such an important part of basketball, that SWiSH, that DRIZZLE, that CROSSOVER.” Some people might initially label this as a sportsbook, but the book goes beyond that label. How is this book about much more than basketball? How does the book also connect to the beauty, wit, swish, and drizzle of life? 
  10. Kwame Alexander writes the novel in verse. How does using poetry--many different kinds of poetry--affect the story and its readers
  11. Vocabulary poems appear throughout the book. How do these reinforce significant moments in the book? How do the rules apply to life? 
  12. The book includes many references to jazz and hip hop. How does bringing in the different types of music add to the story and the characters? 
  13. The book presents an opportunity to consider forgiveness and the righting of wrongs with siblings, parents, friends, and perhaps more difficult, ourselves. What are the challenges and benefits in doing so? 


Check out this Read Feed post for a list of selected read-a-likes if you enjoyed The Crossover! 

Family Activities 

  • Download the Puzzling Poetry, Treasure Chest App to create a poem in a fun way: More information about the developers and this gamified poetry experience here. The app is available in the Apple app store and Google Play store. It was developed by Studio Louter, a Dutch Poet and the foundation for literature and translated by David Colmer.
  • Learn About Poetry, with our poetry packet full of activities to get your creativity flowing, including acrostic poems, blackout poetry, book spine poetry, and more. Download it here. 
  • Hear Kwame Alexander, read from his Newbery winning book, The Crossover here.
  • Explore the Physics of basketball with the Washington Wizards. View the videos here

Family Learning at the Library

Learn more about The Crossover, author Kwame Alexander and the literary styles incorporated into his Newbery Award-Winning Title in these DC Public Library Family Learning Videos!