The first book I listened to on my drive was The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, the winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal. Not having read the book, I was quite surprised by the news that it had won this prestigious award, having read so many other deserving titles this year. After listening to it, however, I must say I am thrilled with the Newbery committee's choice.
Memphis lives, eats, and breathes basketball, and many of my students have aspirations of playing ball in high school, college, and even the pros. Many, if not most, would much rather be out on the basketball court than reading any day, but the subject matter, the fact that the characters and the author are African American just like the majority of my students, and the rhythmic rap bounce start and stop of the poetry will make this book an easy sell to even my most reluctant readers.
The second book I listened to was another novel in verse, Andrea Davis Pinkney's The Red Pencil. The poetry and subject matter of this book evoked a totally different feel than The Crossover. Pinkney tackled the difficult subjects of civil war, genocide, and inequality of educational opportunities for girls in the Dafur region of Sudan and made these very difficult topics meaningful and appropriate subjects for middle grade readers.
I'll remember this weekend for a long time for the great stories I heard and the great learning and professional collaboration I experienced in Dublin. Reading Rocks!