The Playbook: 52 Rules To Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life

Book review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
The Playbook: 52 Rules To Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life Book Poster Image
Dynamic collection of inspiring quotes, lessons from sports.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Playbook features quotes from numerous accomplished athletes of all backgrounds and genders, which may lead readers to want to learn more about them.

Positive Messages

Kwame writes, "Success comes from facing fear, overcoming obstacles, working hard, and believing you're good enough to win." Meanwhile, there are numerous coaches, athletes, and authors quoted who offer positive messages such as "Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to be better" (Pat Riley), "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way" (Babe Ruth), "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard" (Kevin Durant), and "All great achievements require time" (Maya Angelou).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dozens of the greatest athletes of all time are quoted throughout the book, offering their wisdom and encouragement.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, by author and poet Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), is a collection of graphically highlighted quotes by sports icons and others, anecdotes about the author's personal history as an athlete, and extended metaphors that show the valuable lessons young people learn from competition and being a part of a team. Written in the form of "rules" to live by, the visually appealing, succinct book is easy to read and especially relatable to kids who love sports.

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What's the story?

THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME CALLED LIFE, by prolific author and poet Kwame Alexander, intersperses stories of athletes he admires and his experiences as a budding tennis player with 52 rules to live by based on lessons learned by playing sports. Each rule is accompanied by a complementary quote from a famous athlete or public figure, such as Mia Hamm, Derek Jeter, Simone Biles, or Kobe Bryant, to name but a few. The quotes are mostly truisms such as "Champions behave like champions before they are champions" (Hall of Fame football coach Bill Walsh) and "A surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence" (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor). Divided into four "quarters" of 13 rules each, the book uses the structure of an extended basketball metaphor to offer advice and wisdom to young people.

Is it any good?

This book of kid-friendly wisdom is filled with encouraging, insightful messages that offer positive reinforcement to young athletes who often face incredible pressure. And it cleverly uses the words of champions and underdogs to connect directly with the kids who look up to them. Author Kwame Alexander's biographical passages are charming, if not profound, while the book's overall design and layout is engaging and vibrant, featuring dramatic photographs by former SportsCenter anchor Thai Neave of hoopers in action on a variety of blacktops.

In a world more obsessed with professional sports heroes and inspirational, meme-able quotes than ever, The Playbook is a refreshing, thoughtful, and well-compiled scrapbook that encourages kids to pick up a book and think about what they're actually getting out of spending so much time focused on athletics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the recurring themes in The Playbook. Why do most of the athletes quoted emphasize the importance of preparation, discipline, determination, and perseverance? How does playing sports help you develop these traits? 

  • Who are your sports heroes? What qualities have made them successful in their careers?

  • Which piece of advice from a sports star do you think you can use in your own life? 

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For kids who love sports and competition

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