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Newbery award-winning author reads to Richmond students

RICHMOND, Va. -- Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander read to students at Binford Middle School in Richmond Sunday.

His giant tour bus, wrapped in bold and brilliant colors is adorned with superstars of young adult literature.

Alexander has an array of critically acclaimed books to his name. He reads and his fans respond.

Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander

At Binford Middle School, Alexander is known and loved as he is at dozens of stops along this tour.

The Crossover is the book that earned him the prestigious Newbery Medal in 2015. It’s the blend of sports action, adolescent angst, and driving poetry that elicit admiration and book love from thousands.

And now, he’s here to deliver the prequel. Rebound is an equally engaging story about a family with great love for basketball and greater love for each other.

“I love the 80s music, my friends, the family reunions, the cookouts," Alexander said. "It allowed me to write about that time period and also talk about a kid who’s dealing with loss. You know, trying to overcome that.Trying to rebound from that on and off the court in his life.”

Alexander is making a distinctive mark in the world of literature by writing great books, but he is also a literacy activist. For him it is not only important that he is writing great books, it also matters to him that people are reading lots of great books.

Kwame Alexander at Binford Middle School.

Kwame Alexander at Binford Middle School.

And how do you prompt a kid to read? You let the book do the work. But first, Alexander said you must "know the kid."

"Know what kind of book is going to resonate with that kid," Alexander said. "Guide that kid towards that book, not necessarily give the kid books that we think they ought to read. Find the book that’s going to connect with them, that’s going to make them want to read.”

Alexander speaks of the kind of passion for reading that adults have to model. It is that passion personified by his mentor, Nikki Giovanni, who joined him onstage.

It is the same brand of enthusiasm that he takes out on the court when we ask the basketball story writer about his playing skills.

Students Kian and Nakesha are up to the challenge, and pretty soon, Alexander is outnumbered.

Coach Ricks, Principal Ricky and Librarian Simms prove too much. Alexander’s smack talk turns into cries of, “Too many librarians." Good thing he’s got other skills to see him through.