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Kwame Alexander

Language: English
Genre: History, Identity, Poetry, Politics, Sports
Age group: 12-14, 15-18
Audience: Young People
Topics: Poetry

Kwame Alexander joins us to read and discuss his Newbery medal-winning novel, The Crossover, a story about two brothers who love basketball written entirely in verse and has been adapted into a graphic novel illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. Kwame also reads from his award-winning picture book The Undefeated, a stunning poem about black history illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Join Kwame for a powerful discussion about his books and why he thinks poetry is such an interesting way of telling stories.

Our learning resource on challenging racism in school(this will open in a new window) contains a mix of activities which you can use in school to explore prejudice and discrimination further.

We also have a range of learning activities related to performance poetry(this will open in a new window) available to download. You can find more fantastic poetry for young people(this will open in a new window) in our booklist.

If you only do one thing

We know time is tight, so here is just one activity you could do before or after watching this author event with Kwame Alexander.

This is for... LIT 3-09a, LIT 3-20a, ENG 3-27a

In the event, Kwame reads his poem The Undefeated. It is a poem that references the work (and words) of figures including Martin Luther King, Jr. Langstone Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as the unheard voices of black slavery. The poem repeats the phrase "this is for..." to introduce key figures and groups, ending with "This is for you. This is for us". Ask pupils to insert a new "this is for..." into the poem. Who would they include? Is there someone from history who inspires them? Who stands up to injustice, prejudice and who has made a change? Or is there someone they admire who is doing this and making a change today? Ask pupils to discuss these questions in pairs, and to discuss what it is about these individuals they admire, and what it is they are standing up for, and why.

Once pupils have chosen a figure they would like to focus on, they research phrases or key words from these inviduals they would like to include in their poem. Once the poems are complete, read the opening verse of The Undefeated and ask each pupil to read or contibute their poem. Return to the poems final lines to end the session.

For shorter clips from this event visit the BBC Scotland Learning(this will open in a new window) website.

A full transcript of the event is available to download below.

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