Thought Provoking Book for Young Basketball Fans

Today I have a thought provoking book for young basketball fans.  This story is adapted from the adult bestseller about Perry Wallace, the man who integrated college basketball in the South.  His journey is a revealing look at our history and the evolution of the game.  It is especially timely with March Madness in full swing!

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Title: Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition)strong inside thought provoking book for young basketball fans

Author: Andrew Maraniss

Target: Grade 5 and up

Series: No

What this book is about:

Perry Wallace was the first African American to play basketball in the Southeastern Conference. While the world was opening up to black Americans, the South remained deeply segregated . His courageous pioneering step was fraught with unexpected challenges and hatred but he persisted in his goals. This book shares his upbringing, his decision to go to Vanderbilt and how he managed to begin the process of integrating college basketball teams in the South.

Why I love this book:

  • I have to remind myself that this story happened in my lifetime. Yes, I was a preschooler and had no idea of the circumstances, but the idea that while I was alive black athletes and students were a rare occurrence at established non black universities still floors me. I am also from the West Coast, and I think we lived in a kind of bubble, really unaware of the debilitating racism that existed in the South. This book will be an eye opener for kids who probably have no sense of what overt and subtle racism felt like for these pioneering black students.
  • I appreciated that the author looked at the many ways that African Americans dealt with the situations they confronted. Some like Perry took a quiet approach and simply gave people no reason to hate them, in essence never giving in to any misguided stereotypes. Other black students were more aggressive in their approach, feeling frustrated with the slow pace of progress and forcing a change to acknowledge their basic human rights. Neither approach is delineated as right or wrong, the message seems to be that being true to yourself gave a person the right path to walk along.
  • Great look at basketball at the time and the big southern rivalries. Now if only they could do something about those short shorts!

Who this book is for:

Wonderful book for kids who love basketball and especially those caught up in March Madness. It is also a great read for kids who are interested in history.  If your kids enjoyed stories like Undefeated, this book will be especially appreciated.

Final thoughts:

Perry Wallace is a man of courage and grace and his story is a gift to kids.

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition).  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.