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Book List

The grade levels you see here are only a general recommendation. I've seen middle schoolers get excited about Brown Sugar Babies and first graders enjoy Rimshots. This is only a guide of where to begin.

Elementary School

I Am the WorldI Am the World

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"In this slim volume, photography and verse come together to present a youthful showcase of diversity, beauty, strength, and joy. A powerful jumping-off point for children beginning to study their own culture and those of the youngsters around them."
- School Library Journal

 
Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick

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"An excellent title that provides an admirably accurate picture of slavery in America for younger readers."
-KIRKUS Review

And check out the write up in the NY Times Book Review

 

Stars in the ShadowsStars In The Shadows

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“Writing in snappy rhymed couplets, Smith delivers a play-by-play, inning-by-inning account of the second annual East-West Classic, held in Chicago in 1934, an all-star face-off between the best players from the Negro League.”
Publisher's Weekely

 

Black JackBlack Jack

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“This book is sure to be championed by reluctant readers with energy and restlessness just like Johnson's, but it is a strong selection for library and classroom read-alouds as well.”
School Library Journal

 

Dance With MeDance With Me

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“The use of repetitive, highly chantable wording engages this book's very young audience, supporting language development even as it encourages them to throw their whole bodies into the experience of reading it.” - Kirkus Reivews

 

Brown Sugar BabiesBrown Sugar Babies

“Through uncluttered photographs of babies whose skin tones vary from honey to black cherry and simple enchanting rhymes, Smith has captured the tactile joy of infants. Delicious phrases such as "soft peanut butter feet" and "little carob cherub" beg to be repeated and savored.”- School Library Journal

(This book is now out of print)

 

   
Baby Love Books 1
Baby Love Books 2

Baby Love board book series

(These books are now out of print)

 

   

My People

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2010 Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration!

In its visual simplicity, [Smith]’s picture-book presentation is a tour de force.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

 

Let's Play BasketballLet’s Play Basketball

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Lat's Play BaseballLet’s Play Baseball

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Diamond LifeDiamond Life

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“The energetic, playful language begs to be read aloud. Combined with bright colors, bold print in a variety of fonts, and exceptional photography, this book is a winner.”- School Library Journal

 

   

I Am America

 

I Am America

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“From clothes and music to religion and ethnicity, this handsome picture book celebrates diversity in America today. Children will enjoy finding themselves and their friends and talking about their differences and connections.”- Booklist

 

Loki & AlexLoki & Alex

“Skillfully blurred action shots and a breathless text convey Loki's energy. Close-ups of Alex show his loving concern. Inability to read minds aside, communication between these two friends is totally successful.”- Booklist

(This book is now out of print)

 

Who Needs Bird When Dogs Can Fly?Who Needs Bird When Dogs Can Fly?

(This book is now out of print)

 

Winning WordsWinning Words

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“Smith does a fine job of evoking the action and character of the games, in words and in close-up photos. An excellent choice for reading aloud, this book should win over a wide audience, including reluctant readers.” - School Library Journal

 

The Mighty 12The Mighty 12
Superheroes of Greek Myth

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“Fans of fantasy, comic books, and adventure stories will be irresistibly drawn to The Mighty 12 for general reading.” – School Library Journal

Hear poems from this book

   

Twelve Rounds to Glory

Twelve Rounds to Glory
The Story of Muhammad Ali

2008 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award
2008 Norman Sugarman Best Biography Honor Book

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“It is the text by Charles R. Smith Jr. that illuminates the dazzle and daring of Ali, and ultimately the spiritual calm. He writes in a soft-rap second person singular, suggesting a poetry-slam letter of thanks for a life that has enriched us. This is a book that fulfills the mission of engaging readers until they are ready for the ever expanding adult shelf of Aliology in all its nuance and spin.”- The New York Times - Robert Lipsyte

Hear poems from this book

 

 

 

Hoop Kings

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“This book will have enormous appeal for all ages; basketball fans will love it, but so will others who respond to color, lively language, and energy. Readers will experience a wild ride!”- School Library Journal

 Hear poems from this book

 

Hoop Queens

 

 

Hoop Queens

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“Smith's infectious wordplay may encourage young basketball fans to invent their own creative ways to describe the things they love. A great choice to energize poetry units."- Booklist

Hear poems from this book

 

Tall TalesTall Tales

“Frenetic page design gives this collection of high and wild b-ball feats the quick energy of a fast-break playground game.”- Kirkus Reviews

(This book is now out of print)

 

RimshotsRimshots

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“This unconventional book might well sneak up on kids who don't think they like to read and score a slam-dunk.”- Publishers Weekly

Hear poems or  See images from this book

 

 

Short Takes

 

Short Takes

“Varying from tight haiku to free-form rap, the poems bounce with the rhythm of the ball, rhymes jumping from the line end to the middle and back again. Stylish and immediate, this is perfect for teachers seeking accessible material for poetry units and for young fans of the game.”- Booklist

Hear poems or See images from this book

 

Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony

“Children will be educated as well as energized by these strong, playful poems that may inspire them to find their own sounds in poetry or music. A must-have for teachers.”- Booklist

(This book is now out of print)

Hear poems or See images from this book

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Middle School+

Pick Up GamePick Up Game

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“Such luminaries as Walter Dean Myers, Bruce Brooks, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Robert Lipsyte examine the ways in which players, wannabes, and hangers-on interact in the vibrant, freewheeling subculture of inner-city playground hoops.”
School Library Journal

 

ChameleonChameleon

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The wait is over. My first novel is finally here! Aimed at grades 8 and up, it tells the story of Shawn and three friends in Compton, California during the summer before their freshman year of high school.

 

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All photographs on this site copyright © Charles R. Smith, Jr., 2003