by Kwame Alexander

Author Interview

Book Trailer

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Author’s website:

Author interview with BookTrust (13:38):—kwame-alexander/

Activities & Resources:


Educator’s guide from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Teaching ideas from The Classroom Bookshelf:


Check out this site for information on basketball rules, player positions, and tips for beginners:

This coaching site has a detailed list of basketball terms. How many can you find while reading Rebound?:

Meet the Harlem Globetrotter who shot baskets with Charlie at halftime, much to Roxie’s dismay:

Read more about the Harlem Globetrotters, a traveling basketball team that is still active today:

Find out what made Michael Jordan one of the greatest basketball players of all time:

Check out the details and the price of a pair of Air Jordans III that Charlie desperately wanted in 1988:

Travel back to 1988:

Rebound is set in 1988, and the book is full of references to ‘80’s culture and current events. Discover the year’s highlights in these 1988 facts for kids:


Charlie and his dad had a fascination with comic books. Read this page out of comic book history, featuring the Marvel Age of comics.  Locate information on the Black Panther and the Fantastic Four, some of Charlie’s favorites:


Charlie’s father and grandfather were jazz lovers and wanted to share that music with Charlie. Read these jazz facts for an overview of this genre of music.

Musician Wynton Marsalis reviews the history of jazz in the US, sharing sound clips:

Check out the National Museum of American History’s Groovin’ to Jazz (8-13 years) webpage on the Smithsonian Jazz site. Listen to examples of classic jazz tunes and arrangements:

Keeping a journal:

The journal that CJ gives to Charlie appears 30 years later in a key scene at the end of the book. Read about the benefits of daily journal writing for kids of all ages:

MakerSpace Activities:

Granddaddy Bell loves to share what Roxie calls Instructions for Better Living, little inspirational quotes spoken to motivate the listener. Examples of these sayings would be “Don’t shirk the work” (p. 158) or “Champion trains, chumps complain” (p. 200). Find some of your favorite Granddaddy Bell quotes and turn them into motivational posters to hang on the wall of your room, classroom, or library. Each poster should have the quote with a large graphic to illustrate its meaning. Be creative and think big!

Use free kid-friendly online comic generators like Make Beliefs Comix or  Comic Creator to produce a comic strip of some of your favorite scenes in the book:

Create a digital Bell family history museum. Think of objects in the book that were important to Charlie, his parents, his grandparents, and Roxie. Include CJ in the family, too. Then find images to represent these objects and write text for each item, using questions from the Make Family History link below. Compile into a museum tour, using PowerPoint, Prezi, or another presentation site. Add an ‘80’s music soundtrack, and share with friends who have read the book:

Develop a board game based on details from the book. Create markers to move, questions, a rules brochure, and the board.

Discussion Questions:

Rebound is a prequel to Kwame Alexander’s award-winning novel in verse, The Crossover:a Basketball Novel. What is a prequel? Share some reasons an author might want to write a prequel to a novel.  Explain whether or not Rebound can be a stand-alone novel, able to be appreciated without having to read The Crossover first.

Rebound’s cover appears to be a simple image of a young male basketball player. After some deep looking, share details that reveal something about the character, Charlie. Why were the colors black and orange selected for the image and the background?

In an interview on his website about The Crossover, Kwame Alexander writes, “I felt that poetry would mirror the energy, the movement, the pulse of a basketball game the best.” Find a poem in Rebound that illustrates this same point — that poetry best makes the reader feel the action. Share the title and page number of your selected poem, and then describe how the poem made you feel like you were involved in a basketball game.

Think about the title of the book. What are the different ways that the word “rebound” are used in the book? Explain how this one word can be a summary of the book’s action from Charlie’s point of view.

What is the effect of this story being told in first person, with Charlie serving as the narrator?

What is purpose of the first poem “Looking Back” (pp. 1-2) What important information does the author share with the reader in these 22 short lines?

Many of the novel’s verses are conversational poems, often between just two characters.  How does the author identify who is speaking without indicating the character’s name? What does ellipsis (. . .) represent in these conversational poems? Share whether or not you had difficulty following the conversation in these poems.

Different font size and styles are used in a number of the poems. See Conversation (that ends badly) on pp. 49-50 for an example. Select another example with various font sizes and styles and share how those visual changes impact the poem’s meaning. List the poem’s title and page number in your description.

Describe Granddaddy’s strengths and weaknesses. Share the important role this character plays in the book.

Grandma is a who person who spends her days taking care of others. Give examples of how Grandma’s tending to others brings healing to those around her.

Describe how you felt about Charlie’s mother at the beginning of the novel. Give examples from the book to back up your opinion. Then share your impression of the mother at the end of the book, sharing examples to support your opinion.  

Although no longer living, Charlie’s father is a very strong presence in the novel. What are this character’s outstanding qualities? Is this a person you’d like to know? Explain your answer.

Why does Charlies continue to be friends with Skinny, a person who is constantly getting Charlie into trouble? Do you think Skinny is a sympathetic character? Explain your answer.

Charlie has two female friends who are an important part of this 1988 summer. Make a chart and list the ways that CJ and Roxie are alike. Then list the ways these two characters are different. Which character do you think has the greater influence on Charlie during the summer vacation? Explain your answer.

Of all the characters in the book, which character would you most like to have a conversation with and why? What questions would you like to ask that character? What questions do you think that character would want to ask you?

The author uses many references to people, movies, TV shows, music, and current events from the 1980’s. Were you familiar with any of these references? Were the references helpful in setting the time or confusing? Explain your answer.

Roxies refers to Granddaddy’s “instructions for better living” on p. 235 (Poem — When we walk into). What do these sayings that Granddaddy is constantly sharing reveal about this character? Do you think these “instructions” are just corny statements or words of truth? Why?

Actual comic strips are periodically included in the novel. What might have been the author’s reason for using comic strips in this novel in verse? Describe how the comics affected you as a reader. What insights into Charlie’s character did you get through reading these comics?

A pair of Air Jordans becomes a symbol of conflict in this novel. Describe how a pair of shoes was the source of anger, hurt, and resentment. What did these shoes represent to Charlie? To Charlie’s mother? To Granddaddy?

Jazz was important to both Charlie’s father and Granddaddy. Give some examples from the novel of how the characters used jazz as a source of healing. How did music also become a source of sadness for the characters? Describe a time that music had a strong emotional effect on you.

What important realization did Charlie have in the poem Memory (pp.322-323)? How does the title of the poem relate to this revelation?

Charlie made some very irresponsible decisions throughout the novel. In your opinion, which questionable decision had the most significant consequence for this character? If you were Charlie’s friend, how would you have advised him, if he told you what he was planning to do?

After Charlie was released from jail, Granddaddy and Charlie went to the local airport to watch the planes. As they sat on the airfield together, Granddaddy states, “This is a team sport” (There’s a Hole in my Soul, p. 375). What was Granddaddy referring to as a team sport? Do you agree? Explain your answer.

Re-read Conversation with Mom, pp. 382-385.  Give specific examples of how Charlie and his mother’s relationship has changed from the beginning of the novel. In your opinion, what made this transformation possible?

At the end of the novel, a section called 2018 (Thirty years later) contains several poems that involve the next generation in the Bell family. Give the reason that the author might have included this little section at the close of the book. Is the 2018 section important to your understanding or enjoyment of the novel? Explain your answer.

Book Talk Teasers:

Present the Rebound readers theater, found on the TBA resources webpage. Let students share their predictions for what will happen to Charlie. Encourage them to check out the book to see which predictions were correct.

Project a cover of the book and ask students to share what they think the book will be about. Encourage them to look at the words on the silhouette and the basketball, as well as to use any prior knowledge they have about the author or previous books. Encourage students to read the book.

Read Alikes:

Novels in Verse

Alexander, Kwame. Booked. Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon 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. (NoveList Plus)

Alexander, Kwame.The crossover: a basketball novel. Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health. (NoveList Plus)

Grimes, Nikki. Garvey’s choice. Preferring science and reading to the sports his father wants him to play, Garvey comforts himself with food and endures bullying before joining the school chorus, where he learns how to accept himself and bond with his father. (NoveList Plus)

Grimes, Nikki. Planet Middle School. A series of poems describes all the baffling changes at home and at school in twelve-year-old Joylin’s transition from tomboy basketball player to not-quite-girly girl. (NoveList Plus)

Holt, K. A. Rhyme schemer. A novel in verse about Kevin’s journey from bully to being bullied, as he learns about friendship, family, and his talent for poetry. (NoveList Plus)

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The red pencil. After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder. (NoveList Plus)

Playing Sports

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem. Sasquatch in the paint. Eighth-grader Theo Rollins’ growth spurt has Coach Mandrake trying to transform him into a basketball star, but training time is hurting the science club’s chances of winning the “Aca-lympics,” and being accused of stealing could mean Theo is off both teams. (NoveList Plus)

Bauer, Joan. Soar. Moving to Hillcrest, Ohio, when his adoptive father accepts a temporary job, twelve-year-old Jeremiah, a heart transplant recipient, has sixty days to find a baseball team to coach. (NoveList Plus)

Lupica, Mike. Travel team. After he is cut from his travel basketball team–the very same team that his father once led to national prominence–twelve-year-old Danny Walker forms his own team of cast-offs that might have a shot at victory. (NoveList Plus)

Reynolds, Jason. Ghost. Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential.(NoveList Plus)

Reynolds, Jason. Patina. A newbie to the track team, Patina “Patty” Jones must learn to rely on her family and teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons. (NoveList Plus)

Spicer-Dannelly, Doreen. Love Double Dutch! Kayla must salvage her double Dutch dreams after her parents’ rocky relationship takes her away from Brooklyn – and her beloved team – to spend the summer in North Carolina. (NoveList Plus)

Sports Poems

Low, Alice The fastest game on two feet: and other poems about how sports began.

Sports have origins in all kinds of activities, such as playing with sticks and stones, running from threats, and taking part in religious ceremonies. Using conjecture and historical facts, this book of poetry and prose relates how nineteen sports got their start and grew into the games we know today. (NoveList Plus)

Florian, Douglas. Poem runs: baseball poems and paintings. Collects a series of poems celebrating the sport of baseball, including poems on the pitcher, the first baseman, the umpire, and the fans. (NoveList Plus)

Myers, Christopher. Jabberwocky. The author’s famous poem is given a modern visual twist as the Jabberwocky becomes a fourteen-fingered, slam-dunking beast on the basketball court. (NoveList Plus)

Smith, Charles R., Jr. Hoop kings: poems. A collection of twelve poems that celebrate contemporary basketball stars, including Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant. (NoveList Plus)


Alexander, Kwame.  Rebound. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  2018


Rebound. (Starred)

Alexander, Kwame (author). Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile.

Apr. 2018. 416p. HMH, $16.99 (9780544868137); HMH, e-book, $16.99 (9781328476630). Grades 6-9.

REVIEW. First published March 15, 2018 (Booklist).

It’s the end of the school year in 1988, and Charlie Bell is flattened by the death of his father. Charlie tries to hide in the pages of his comic book collection, much to his mother’s despair. Finally she ships him off to stay with his grandparents for the summer. At first it’s just a fresh form of misery, as Charlie’s acidic grandfather goads him into physical activity in the stifling heat. Then his cousin Roxie coaxes him onto the basketball court. It’s the combination of family, friends, and mad new skills that finally help Charlie begin to rebound from his father’s death. Charlie Bell is the father of twins Jordan and Josh Bell, stars of Alexander’s Newbery Medal–winning novel Crossover (2014). Fans of Crossover will remember that Chuck “Da Man” Bell played professional basketball, and they’ll be intrigued by his initial resistance to learning the game. But this is an Alexander production, so the plot, as rich and satisfying as it is, is outdazzled by the brilliance of wordplay and syntax. There is a rhythm to each page, whether it’s the snappy give-and-take of dialogue, the throbbing of Charlie’s bottomless melancholy, or the rushing excitement of a basketball game. In addition, comics-style illustrations by Emmy-winning artist Anyabwile bring Charlie’s fantasies of basketball glory to life. Librarians who delighted at Crossover’s popularity will be thrilled with this pitch-perfect follow-up. — Diane Colson

Reprinted with Permission of Booklist

School Library Journal (April 1, 2018) 

Gr 6 Up-In this prequel/companion to the acclaimed The Crossover, readers meet a young Charlie Bell, father of the twins from the first book. It’s 1988, and Charlie just lost his dad to a heart attack. Suppressing his grief and alienating himself from his concerned mother, Charlie gets in trouble, which results in him spending the summer with his paternal grandparents. Granddaddy is a no-nonsense, jazz-loving man, who quickly puts “Chuck” in his place and demands that the sullen teenager help out around the house and spend time with his cousin Roxie shooting hoops. Not a natural baller, Chuck gets schooled by Roxie and slowly improves his game. With firm but loving support from his family and friends, he learns to refocus and get in touch with his emotions. In a high-stakes tournament, Roxie and Chuck learn that “it’s okay/to be down/and upset/as long as/you’re not down/and out.” As in his previous novels in verse, Alexander shows off his expert command of the format, employing staccato breaks with smooth rhymes that mimic the bounce and flow of the sport. Interspersed are several comic panels illustrated by Anyabwile, which serve as fantastical imaginings-Chuck Bell dominating on the court like a superhero from his favorite comic books. As Chuck works his way through deep grief and deals with the consequences of some bad decisions, his voice is always fresh and compelling; Alexander’s poetry is buoyant and optimistic. VERDICT Fans of The Crossover will delight in learning the origin tale of Josh and JB’s dad, while new readers can comfortably jump right into the game.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2018.