A video interview with

Charles Smith

Charles R. Smith is a talented children's book author and photographer. His expressive poetry — frequently about sports and music — has been praised for its playful language and clever rhymes, while his expressive photographs beautifully illuminate the texts. Smith's books are especially appealing for read alouds and to engage struggling or reluctant readers.

You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Charles Smith, or see a selected list of his children's books

After you watch the interview, visit Smith's website to hear him performing his own poetry and for his ideas to integrate photography into the classroom.


Charles R. Smith, Jr. was born and raised in California. As a child he spent a lot of time reading books and poetry and playing basketball, but during his stint on the high school yearbook committee he fell in love with photography and decided that he wanted to be a professional photography.

Today, Smith combines his experiences in these three areas — writing, photography, and sports — in his work with children's books. Rimshots, his first book, is a collection of stories and poems mixed with gritty black and white photos. While many of his books, like Hoop Kings, Hoop Queens, Tall Tales and Short Takes, focus on basketball, Smith has diverse interests. Baseball gets its due in Diamond Life, while the definition of what it means to be American is celebrated through images and words in I Am America. His recent work celebrates those who have inspired him, such as Muhammad Ali in Twelve Rounds to Glory and subjects he's been interested in since he was a kid, such as The Mighty 12, which celebrates Greek gods and goddesses. Of the distinctive niche Charles R. Smith Jr. fills with his books, he notes, "I want to show students, particularly boys, that there are many ways to pursue their interests, no matter what they may be."

Smith lives in Poughkeepsie, New York, with his wife and their three children.

"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio