Learning About Dyslexia: The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White

I usually write about books and activities for early childhood and early elementary students, but every once in a while I find a book for the upper elementary grades that teachers and parents should know about.  The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White is one of them.  The Hoopstar is a realistic fiction children's book inspired by real life.  It is about a 12-year-old girl named Brylane who loves to play basketball.  On the basketball court, she is confident and fearless... a true champion!  But on the inside, there is something making Brylane feel less confident, something most of the people around her don't know about...  she has dyslexia.  What is dyslexia?  How does it affect Brylane's life?  How does Brylane overcome having dyslexia to achieve her dreams?  Keep reading to learn about dyslexia and to learn more about The Hoopstar!

The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White: Learn about dyslexia and character traits with The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White. A girl has dyslexia but it doesn't stop her from doing well at school and from playing basketball! #kellysclassroomonline

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author's Summary

The Hoopstar was inspired by the true story of a twelve-year-old girl who's always had a love for basketball. It was where she shined the most. Brylane knew how to master plays and how to outthink her opponent on the court, but she struggled with another opponent off the court . . . Dyslexia. This entertaining story gives readers an enjoyable reading experience while also teaching them the importance of overcoming obstacles, building confidence, self-love, courage, and the value of hard work.

🏀🍎 Title: The Hoopstar
🏀🍎 Author: Chavon D. White
🏀🍎 Illustrator: Bev Johnson
🏀🍎 Publisher: Author House
🏀🍎 Date: April 15, 2019
🏀🍎 Pages: 56

The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White

What is dyslexia?

Before reading The Hoopstar with your students, take some time to talk with them about dyslexia, what it is... and what it isn't... and to dispel any preconceived notions they may have about it.  Here are some simplified tidbits to talk about with your students:

Dyslexia is not a disease. 
It is not contagious or fatal. You can't catch it from someone and people don't die from it.

Dyslexia is a learning disability.  
Some people call it a learning 'difficulty.'  Dyslexia affects the area of the brain that processes language, making it difficult for people who have it to identify speech sounds and connect them to letters and words.

For a long time people believed that if someone reversed words or letters while writing, it meant they had dyslexia.  
Actually... a lot of people still believe it.  This is a bit of a misconception though.  Yes, some people who have dyslexia have difficulty with reversals... but not everyone with dyslexia does.  On the flip side, there are children without dyslexia who get their words and letters jumbled up.  Reversals are not the best indicator of whether or not someone has dyslexia.

Having dyslexia does not mean a person is 'dumb' or 'lazy.'  
People with dyslexia can lead full and productive lives. Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, Kobe Bryant, Muhammed Ali, Pablo Picasso, and Leonardo DaVinci are a few famous people who have... or had... dyslexia. Some of our American presidents had dyslexia as well: Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and even George Washington. No one calls any of these people dumb or lazy!

To learn more detailed and specific information about dyslexia, please visit the International Dyslexia Association's website.

The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White

Learning About Character Traits

When Chavon White wrote The Hoopstar, she chose to write it from the main character's point of view and perspective.  Even though The Hoopstar is realistic fiction inspired by real people and events, it reads like an autobiography or memoir.  We learn about Brylane's thoughts, feelings, insecurities, goals, and motivations.  We also learn about Brylane's character through her behavior and the things she says.

Character traits are words and phrases that describe a character’s personality or qualities that make them who they are. In other words, how you would describe that character to someone else.

The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White

After reading The Hoopstar with your students, take some time to talk about the main character Brylane.  Use the L.I.E. (literal, inferential, evaluative) questions to probe your students and get them to say more than 'She's nice' or 'She's a good basketball player.'

Examples of Literal Questions to Ask

  • How old is Brylane?
  • What grade is Brylane in?
  • Who are some of Brylane's friends and teammates?
  • What is the name of Brylane's basketball team?

Examples of Inferential Questions to Ask

  • Give an example of when Brylane felt _______________.  What made her feel that way?
  • What character trait was Brylane showing when she _______________?
  • What event caused Brylane from feeling _______________ to _______________ in the middle of the story?

Examples of Evaluative Questions to Ask

  • Which of Bryalne's character traits do you think Chavon White spotlighted the most throughout The Hoopstar? Why do you think she did that?
  • Why do you think Chavon White wanted to write this story about Bylane?  What does she want us to learn from Brylane's experiences?
  • How could the story have changed if Brylane chose to keep her dyslexia a secret from her friend and the college recruiter?

The Hoopstar by Chavon D. White

What are some other skills can you use The Hoopstar to teach?  What are some follow-up activities for The Hoopstar that you can think of?  Share your ideas in the comments below!

Chavon D. White, author of The Hoopstar
To learn more about The Hoopstar, please visit the author's official website.  You can also watch the video trailer for The Hoopstar below:

Did you enjoy reading this post about The Hoopstar? If so, check out these blog posts about more children's books featuring Black main characters: 


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