Inseparable twin brothers Josh and JB love basketball, but changes in their lives begin to pull them apart.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
5th Grade Short Story 720L
Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push
Passage Summary: In Walter Dean Myers’ short story “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push,” a boy must change his approach to basketball when he loses the ability to walk.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read “Warm-Up,” which begins the story of the narrator Josh, his family, and their intense love for basketball. Have students read “Sometimes a Dream Needs a Push” to consider the role sports can play in peoples’ lives. How does wheelchair basketball bring Chris and his father together? What role does basketball play in Josh’s relationships with his family members?
6th Grade Poem
East 149th Street (Symphony for a Black Girl)
Passage Summary: In Teri Ellen Cross Davis’ poem “East 149th Street (Symphony for a Black Girl),” the speaker describes how she feels after having her hair braided by her mother.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read up to the end of “First Quarter.” Early in the chapter, Josh is very upset when JB accidentally cuts off several of his locks of hair. Have students read “East 149th Street” and compare the speaker’s feelings about her hair to Josh’s feelings about his. Why is hair important to them? What is the symbolism of JB cutting Josh’s hair?
6th Grade Short Story 620L
Passage Summary: In Gary Soto’s short story “Seventh Grade,” a boy tries to impress a girl on his first day of seventh grade.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read “First Quarter,” in which Josh is increasingly annoyed and jealous of JB having a crush on the new girl. Have students read “Seventh Grade” and consider how Victor and JB have approached the new school year. Is it unfair for Josh to be upset about JB’s new priorities, or are Josh’s feelings justified? If JB knew about Josh’s negative feelings, how do you think he would react?
7th Grade Short Story 880L
Passage Summary: In Piri Thomas’ short story “Amigo Brothers,” two best friends compete against each other in a boxing match.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read “Second Quarter.” Josh has just launched a basketball into JB’s face, after weeks of being angry at him. Have students read “Amigo Brothers” and compare the two pairs of boys. How do Antonio and Felix approach competition? How do Josh and JB deal with their rivalry? How can open communication keep a rivalry from becoming violent?
8th Grade Poem 900L
Making a Fist
Passage Summary: In this contemporary poem, a child has a realization about her own mortality.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after reading “Third Quarter,” in which Josh’s dad’s health grows worse, culminating in a heart attack. Have students read “Making a Fist” and discuss what it means to be “close to death.” How does the speaker of the poem react to feeling near death? How does Josh’s dad respond to his health scares?
8th Grade Memoir 820L
In My Mom's Shoes
Passage Summary: Kat Chow’s “In My Mom’s Shoes,” reflects on Chow losing her mother and the experience of walking in an old pair of her shoes.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after finishing the book. In “Overtime,” Josh and JB are faced with the sudden death of their father. Have students read “In My Mom’s Shoes” and discuss how Chow, Josh, and JB all deal with the death of a parent in different ways. What does it mean for Chow to wear her mother’s shoes, or for Josh to wear his father’s ring? Why do objects become important after their owner has passed on?