Kwame Alexander is a best-selling author, poet, and advocate for literacy. Starting from the ground up, Kwame started his career selling his books out of his car, only to work his way up to winning the Newbery medal for his verse novel The Crossover, which combines basketball with poetry in an engaging story for young readers.
Despite facing multiple rejections when attempting to get this story published due to the view that boys won’t read poems and girls won’t read about sports, Kwame kept faith in his work. “I knew poetry worked. I figured I was gonna be the guy to remind us that we all love it.” A belief that has more than payed off, as he has gone on to success after success, writing stories that children, especially boys, love.
His most recent book Swing, co-authored with Mary Rand Hess, continues this trend. Dealing with Jazz, baseball, and prejudice, we follow Noah and his best friend Walt through their Junior year of high school, as Noah tries to navigate growing up. A story about finding and knowing how to use your voice.
A message that is unsurprising given Kwame’s continued use of his voice to change the world around him. From co-founding LEAP, an initiative based in Ghana aimed at making education accessible for disadvantaged children through programmes such as student scholarship opportunities; teacher literacy training; and girls’ empowerment workshops, to his new imprint Versify, at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, through which Kwame aims to “to make sure there are more chefs in the kitchen, more voices in the room, that create unique and intelligent entertainment that electrifies and edifies young people,” Kwame continues to make a difference to the world around him, through his words, voice, and actions.
We are thrilled to have Kwame speaking at our conference, ‘Belonging’, this year, lending us his powerful voice which continues to, in his own words, “elevate and empower young people, to help them become more human.”
Mother Jones, How Kwame Alexander Hooks Kids on Poetry – Kwame Alexander interview by Michael Mechanic
NPR, How To Get Kids Hooked On Books? ‘Use Poetry. It as a Surefire Way’ – Interview with Kwame Alexander
VERSIFY: an imprint from Kwame Alexander – https://versifybooks.tumblr.com/