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Kwame Alexander on perseverance

Dear Middle School Families,

Today, we had the great privilege to work with the twelfth annual Karla Harry Visiting Author, Kwame Alexander. With his friend Randy Preston by his side, Mr. Alexander gave a mesmerizing and meaningful presentation to middle school students. It was one part book talk, one part concert, and one part motivational speech. It was also a perfect example of the kind of joyful, multicultural work that you can expect at Gordon School. 

Mr. Alexander not only read from his books, but he also told his own story. In doing so, he taught the students about perseverance. He explained how he wrote eleven drafts of his book The Crossover, and it was rejected nearly twenty times. A book of poems about basketball? No way. No thanks. Nobody wanted it. 

After all this rejection, Mr. Alexander told the kids that he considered quitting, but he said to himself, “You’re a yes person! You cannot let other people’s no’s bring you down!” Mr. Alexander kept at it, and finally The Crossover was published. 

Then, like the master storyteller he is, he led the students through the phone call he received early one morning in 2015 to let him know that The Crossover had won the Newbery Medal, given each year for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

This powerful message about perseverance resonated with our students. It was easy to see the connection our middle schoolers made with Mr. Alexander as they practically tackled him with their questions after his presentation was over.  

This wonderful opportunity today kicked off an incredible week of the Book Fair. Later this afternoon, Gaia Cornwall did a signing. Tomorrow from 3-5pm, Jen Corace will do a book signing, and on Thursday, Oge Mora visits Gordon too! 

Over the next two days, all middle school students will have a chance to visit the Book Fair during the school day. In fifth grade, Mr. Carson and Ms. Roterman’s homerooms will visit on Wednesday morning, and Ms. Garfield’s homeroom will visit on Thursday morning. All sixth graders will visit the Book Fair on Wednesday afternoon, seventh graders will visit on Wednesday morning, and eighth graders will visit on Thursday morning. 

During the day, students can bring up to $20 to buy books or snacks from the bistro when they visit with their class or advisory. Please note that the bistro is not open to middle school students during lunch time. 

Middle schoolers are also welcome to visit the Book Fair after school with family or they can return to the Book Fair after signing in to YAP.

A special thank you to the GCA for all their work and to our wonderful librarian, Frances Martindale, for making these experiences possible for the kids! I can’t confirm or deny that Ms. Martindale rapped with Mr. Alexander at the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade presentation this morning. You’ll have to ask your kids about it.

Thanks and enjoy the Book Fair!