More than Just a Game: The Black Origins of Basketball

Albert Whitman. Sept. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807552711.
Gr 4-8–A beautifully illustrated introduction to the ways Black Americans impacted the shape and structure of one of America’s most popular sports. What isn’t often popularized is the way this sport was introduced to the Black community. In this incisive text, readers learn about the Black Fives (all-Black basketball teams that played between 1904 and 1950), the Harlem Globetrotters, and the grueling path to an integrated basketball league. It is written in an engaging format reminiscent of ESPN’s behind-the-scenes commentary. The text and the images combine to illuminate the full story of basketball and draw readers into the stands for a bird’s-eye view of the game. The quick, light, and pleasurable read is filled with illustrations in a rich color palette, and the elongated bodies of the players highlight the graceful nature of the sport. This would pair well with Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant and Steve Sheinkin’s Undefeated.
VERDICT A strong choice for elementary and middle school libraries for its more complete and more nuanced look at the history of basketball.

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