#1 The STAT: Standing Tall and Talented series by Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire is a six-time NBA All-Star and captain of the New York Knicks. He’s an amazing guy (check out his website by clicking here). He’s written a series of books based on his own life growing up as a very talented athlete and gifted basketball player. This series is targeted at middle-school readers, but Kyle and Owen have absolutely adored these books since we first discovered them about a year ago. We’ve read them all (and pre-order the ones forthcoming!), and without a doubt this is far and away Kyle and Owen’s favorite series.
When reading these books, I often have the strange feeling that they were written specifically with Kyle and Owen in mind, and I know that K & O feel that way too (I wonder if every kid who reads them feels that way about them?). They focus on the joys and challenges of working hard to overcome obstacles. What is particularly helpful for us is that these books have really helped Kyle and Owen to process their own athletic giftedness, and think about how to handle it. Through the story lines of these books the young Amar’e is faced with how to navigate his own course while staying true to his friends and family. What I love about these books is that although they highlight the athleticism of a very talented young black boy, they present him as multi-dimensional, nuanced, and complex; he isn’t simply a stereotype of the “athletic black male,” but rather a multi-faceted person in a realistically portrayed world.
You don’t have to be a mega-athlete to enjoy these books (take me for example! I am by no stretch of the imagination a mega-athlete, and yet I have very much enjoyed reading these books with my boys). But I do think that black boys, especially those interested in sports, will relate to, and love, this series. These books will give their readers a lot to think about (well beyond the basketball court.) And if you have boys like Kyle and Owen in your life (basketball obsessed, and — as referred to in Stoudemire’s books — boys who are “tall and talented”), I can pretty much guarantee that they will just eat these books right up!!
There are currently four books in this series, one forthcoming, and hopefully more in the works! The series includes:
- Home Court
- Double Team
- Slam Dunk
- Most Valuable (expected January 2014)
So, there you have it! Kyle and Owen’s #1 favorite series of chapter books — Amar’e Stoudemire’s STAT: Standing Tall and Talented!