Bestselling, Newbery winning author Kwame Alexander has partnered with Follett School Solutions to create the Kwame Alexander Bookfest, an experiential, student-led classroom book club. Alexander has curated grade-appropriate book collections for grades three through eight, focusing on stories that are “accessible, inspiring, challenging and positively entertaining, because ultimately the goal is getting kids to want to read,” he said in a statement.
Alexander explained that with the help of “literacy and writer friends,” he selected titles “designed to support the whole student, promote academic achievement, and encourage positive, healthy behaviors in and outside of school.” He added, “There is no such thing as a reluctant reader if you hand a kid the right book. More than anything, I wanted to create an amusement park of incredible literature where students could choose their own rides, have fun, and learn a lot.”
Each Bookfest grade-level collection consists of six copies each of five age-appropriate titles for a total of 30 books; teacher and student discussion guides; tips for educators; access to podcasts containing interviews between Alexander and select authors; and a book bin for organization and storage.
Spanning award winners, nonfiction, graphic novels and more, sample book club titles include Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Graphix, 2015); Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel and Friends, 2014); The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Clarion, 2014); Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (Disney/Rick Riordan Presents, 2019); Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Dutton, 2016); and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2007).
This new venture marks an expansion of Alexander’s partnership with Follett. In 2018 the two debuted the All Books for All Kids literacy campaign to ensure that children, no matter their background, have access to a wide range of books.
Britten Follett, CEO of Follett Content Solutions, is pleased to be teaming up with Alexander again. “Follett and Kwame share a similar passion with not only getting kids to read but keeping them reading,” she said in a statement. “The Bookfest emphasizes student choice, which we recognize is critical from an engagement perspective. The collections are designed to help kids see themselves and others, as well as embark on new horizons to better understand and appreciate their neighbors and the world.”