Kwame Alexander

Click here to watch the 2020 ALA Youth Media Awards press conference. 

I asked Jerry Craft, Kwame Alexander, Christian McKay Heidicker, Jasmine Warga, and Alicia D. Williams to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters. 

Hello, Kwame Alexander! Congratulations on receiving a Newbery Honor for The Undefeated. As you know, I love hearing about THE CALL! What ran through your head when the phone rang? What were you thinking about when the Newbery committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Kwame Alexander: Well, I missed the call ‘cause I wasn’t expecting it. I was driving to the gym and looked down and saw a 215 number and I almost crashed. While the clapping and cheering was going on I was crying, which made the committee clap and cheer louder. Oh my. 

What does a Newbery Honor for The Undefeated mean to you?

Kwame Alexander: It means that poetry matters. It means that this story of tragedy and triumph matters. It means, ultimately, that my self-appointed ambassadorship to making books cool for kids gets to continue another five years and that I have to bow every time I see Jerry Craft on the road now. 

Please finish these sentence starters:

Story is the thing that keeps us wanting to read. The characters are the thing that make us not want the story to end. 

School libraries are houses of hope, fields of dreams, and offices of innovation. In fact, I am the innovator-in-residence at the American School in London and my office is literally at a table in the secondary library. How cool is that?!

Very cool! Thank you for advocating for children, libraries, and librarians. Congratulations, Kwame! See you in Chicago in June! 

Borrow The Undefeated from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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