Featured books by Kwame Alexander

Reading Rockets recommends the following books by Kwame Alexander

Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band

Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Tim Bowers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When a jazz-loving rooster sets his sights on winning a barnyard talent show, he realizes he can't do it as a solo act. He's up against the talents of Mules Davis's cool duo and Ella Finchgerald's singing group. Acoustic Rooster calls on friends like pianist Duck Ellington, singer Bee Holiday, and percussionist piggy Pepe Ernesto Cruz. Together, the foursome makes beautiful music as they rock the barnyard. And while they may not win first prize, Acoustic Rooster realizes he has the world's best jazz band and that's all that matters.

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An American Story

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Dare Coulter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Nonfiction

The story of American slavery through the voice of a teacher struggling to help her students understand its harrowing history. From the fireside tales in an African village, through the unspeakable passage across the Atlantic, to the backbreaking work in the fields of the South, this is a story of a people’s struggle and strength, horror and hope. A testament to the resilience of the African American community, this book honors what has been and envisions what is to be.

Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Joel Satore
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader
Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry

A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the beautiful photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in amazing detail.

Booked

Booked

By: Kwame Alexander
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Poetry

In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action, and emotion of a World Cup match!

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Ekua Holmes
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Poetry

“A poem is a small but powerful thing…” Alexander writes in his preface, which is followed by a range of original poems that celebrate, echo, and sometimes emulate a range of well-known poets. Each poem is illustrated by vibrant images on each double page spread. A brief sketch about each eminent poet concludes this attractive volume. 

Surf's Up

Surf's Up

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Daniel Miyares
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Bro and Dude, two frog friends, have differing ideas about what makes for a fun day at the beach. Dude, dressed in swim trunks, surfboard in hand, is totally ready to catch some waves. Bro, meanwhile, has his head buried in a book (Moby Dick) and wants to keep reading. Despite his claim that "books are boring," Dude finds himself increasingly interested in the story about a man looking for a whale. A joyful and humor-filled ode to the magic of imagination and reading.

The Crossover

The Crossover

By: Kwame Alexander
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Fiction, Poetry

The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences — Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks — both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. When life intervenes in the form of a new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both. (2015 Newbery Medal Winner)

The Undefeated

The Undefeated

By: Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader
Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry

This poem is a love letter to black life in the U.S. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Robust back matter provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

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