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Book Club for Kids is a podcast where middle school readers discuss the books they love with host Kitty Felde. The author answers questions. A celebrity reads from the book.

Tips for Reluctant Readers

Tip #38: The Magic of Kwame

Kitty Felde

Newbery Award-winning writer Kwame Alexander

Newbery Award-winning writer Kwame Alexander

The very first author we interviewed on the Book Club for Kids podcast was Kwame Alexander. We booked him for the show before he won the Newbery Award and talked to him just hours after he got the news. He was still walking on Cloud Nine.

Kwame told us that he wrote "The Crossover" for a very particular audience: reluctant readers.

Steve Reichlen, library media specialist at Tyler Elementary School in Washington, DC, says Kwame hit it out of the park. Steve says  "The Crossover" is his go-to choice when he's trying to get a reluctant reader to pick up a book. The story of brothers and basketball is "a nice blend of free verse poetry in novel form with hip-hop sensibility." He says kids perk up when he shows how the verse can be put to a beat. "It's almost an instant sale."

Steve says the book has another built-in enticement for reluctant readers: lots of white space. He says space on the page makes the book less intimidating for young boys who don't like to read.

Haven't read "The Crossover" yet? Listen to kids from Watkins Elementary sing its praises - literally! They loved the book so much, they wrote a song about it and sing it for us on this episode.

Want a copy of "The Crossover" for yourself? Order one here from our friends at Hooray for Books! and they'll send one out ASAP.