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52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game Called Life

Playbook coverYou gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life? What if we had our own basketball rules to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives? 

The Playbook by Kwame Alexander was inspired by his Newberry Medal-winning and New York Times best-selling novel The Crossover. The Playbook is filled with uplifting stories … from favorite sports figures … and 52 rules to follow both on and off the court. Kwame Alexander shares his own … stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games. All illustrated with stunning photographs by Thai Neave.

Say Yes! to life

I heard Kwame talk at Kepler’s Books, and can say straight up that The Playbook is a direct reflection Kwame. He’s a fountain of positivity. And it’s contagious. Kwame Alexander walks the talk. Throughout the evening, he shared lessons from his life on being open to possibility.

The most important rule I’ve learned is that when you are presented with an opportunity that may seem different or challenging or unknown, sometimes you’ve got to summon the courage to trust yourself and SAY YES!

That’s exactly what Kwame did when he was asked to teach students how to professionally publish a (print) book of their poetry … in one day!

Kwame Alexander reading from The CrossoverHe initially designed a two-week workshop. During that time the kids would learn how to design, edit, and layout a book. Then, negotiate with printers, define a marketing plan, and arrange for distribution. As life would have it, the school’s schedule shrunk to a one day window. One day! A seemingly impossible task, especially considering the ages of the children he’d be working with.

Yet, Kwame said Yes!

The workshop started at 7:30 in the morning, and by 4:30 that afternoon the kids had their book of poetry on the way to the printer. Kwame’s wife suggested that he take the program to other schools, and he did. He traveled around the country teaching children how to professionally publish a book of their poetry.

Don’t let other people’s NOs define you

Just as important as saying YES to possibility is not listening to other people’s NOs!. Again, Kwame is proof of the wisdom behind these words. The Crossover is a shining example.

The Crossover is the story about 12 year-old twins who are Kwane Alexander reading from The Playbookawesome on the basketball court, and how they come to realize that breaking the rules comes with serious stakes. Kwame’s game is poetry, and The Crossover is entirely in verse.

Poetry…for middle grade readers, targeted for boys no less.

The Crossover was rejected by the first publisher Kwame submitted it to. So he went back and revised the manuscript, only to get rejections from subsequent submissions to other publishers. He kept at it, revising and submitting. After five years, he’d accumulated 20 rejections.

Most people would’ve given up after the first two or three rejections. Not Kwame, because he knew the power poetry had in changing lives. In the poems he wrote to his mother and daughter, and the “alternative school” students in which poetry inspired a lifetime love of reading. Kwame believed in his work. He didn’t listen to other people’s NOs. Thank goodness.

One publisher finally said YES! The rest is history for the Newberry Award winning, New York Times best-selling novel, The Crossover.