The Crossover Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
African American
Social Justice
by Kwame Alexander - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this novel. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to build children's understanding of themselves and others, as well as exploring the idea of resilience.

Josh and Jordan Bell are brothers on the court and off the court. The boys navigate life as student athletes, while also learning how to overcome obstacles without letting those obstacles ruin their relationship. As part of the community, we have to learn to traverse relationships and learn to forgive and understand others. This book is written in verse. It is a mix of poetry and hip-hop like lyrics.

Literature Guide by Kaitlyn Pressnall

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a crossover in basketball? What does the word crossover mean? What is the significance of the title in the characters' lives?
  2. This book looks at our roles and supports in family relationships. What are different family makeups? How might we support people who have different family makeups? How might someone thrive in different dynamics? In what ways can we advocate for each other if/when our family dynamics are challenged or questioned?
  3. Describe Josh. Why is he different when he is “Filthy McNasty”? Do you think Josh only cares for himself, why or why not?
  4. How does Mr. Bell’s health affect his family?
  5. How does Josh cope with the losses he endures during the book? How does the basketball community help him?
  6. How do the rules in the Bell house relate to the rules in your life?
  7. How would you respond to an adult if you overheard them saying teenagers only care for themselves.
  8. Basketball played a key role in the lives of Josh and Jordan. How do extracurricular activities (sports/student activities) affect your life and path in school?
  9. Have you ever had to forgive someone you love? How’d you do it? What are the elements of an apology and forgiveness?
  10. What lessons can you take from this book and apply to your community? What is the role of the community in a story like this?
  11. The book was written in poetry format. How does the use of verse affect the story?


  1. Write a poem about a significant event in your life. Share with your friends or community to help them understand others.
  2. It can be hard to forgive people and move on from loss. Write a journal entry that only you can read about forgiveness and/or loss. You may choose to forgive someone or you may need to ask for forgiveness. 
  3. Make a music playlist with songs that remind you of the Bell brothers.
  4. Listen to Kwame Alexander's inspiring TED talk "The Power of Yes."