Kwame Alexander, Newbery award-winning author of The Crossover returns to center stage of the children’s literature world with another winning novel-in-verse. In Booked, Alexander introduces us to Nick Hall, the son of a linguistics professor who, in Nick’s opinion, suffers from chronic verbomania. Nick’s dad has a serious obsession with words and insists that his soccer playing son memorize the dictionary he wrote. Nick’s hilarious definitions such as “onomatophobia—noun: fear of hearing a certain word. DEAD!!!!!” will make middle school readers laugh out loud and inspire a new appreciation for the power of words. This book will make an excellent classroom read aloud and platform to discuss the inner meanings of words and how choosing the right word to describe your feelings can make all the difference. What’s more, the poetry is superb. There are so many ways this book can be used in the writing workshop classroom. I’ll list my top three below:
1. Word Definitions—share Nick’s dictionary entries from Booked. Challenge your students to write their own creative definition of words. (ie: “wordbound: adjective: unable to find expression in words. Kinda ironic, right?”)
2. Poetry Model/Mentor Text—Share “Texts to April” from page 232 which is a love letter from Nick to the girl of his dreams and a love song to poetry itself. “The poems were cool./The best ones were like bombs,/ and when all the right words came together/it was like an explosion.” Ask your students to write a poem in the form of a long text.
3. What was in Mac’s Dragonfly Box? Booked ends with an unsolved mystery. Nick’s favorite adult at his school, the librarian, gives Nick his special Dragonfly Box. The last line is “You’ll never believe what was inside . . .” Ask your students to write a story about what was inside the box, why it was a great gift for Nick and what Nick did with the Dragonfly Box after the novel ended.