HOOP GENIUS: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse (Carolrhoda Books, 2013)
In December of 1891, James Naismith was a young teacher trying to find a game that his rowdy class of energetic boys – who’d already forced two teachers to quit – would find challenging and exciting. Indoor football? Too rough. Soccer? Lacrosse? Not indoors! Nothing he tried worked, until… Naismith remembered a game – “Duck on a Rock” – he played as a boy. With a few adjustments and two old peach baskets, Naismith was ready!
That first game, many fouls were called and players were forced to sit on the sideline. But at the whistle signaling the end of the first basketball game ever, none of the students wanted to leave. They loved this new game and couldn’t wait to play again the next day. Basketball quickly spread and, by 1936, it had become such a popular game that it became an Olympic sport.
A book that contains “desperate teacher” and “rowdy class” all in the same title is sure to be a hit with kids. And while there are probably a fair share of adults (including my husband) who knew the story of Naismith, I’m willing to bet most kids have never heard of him. In fact, after reading this book, I wouldn’t be surprised to find groups of children out on the playground at recess trying to come up with their own newly invented sport!