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The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

“A love letter to black America” ~ Kwame Alexander

Author Kwame Alexander is a wonderful example of the power of perseverance.  In the video below he talks about getting his book Crossover published, and the seventeen or eighteen rejections he received before being successful. Then he talks about his book The Undefeated .

The Undefeated, winner of the Caldecott Medal and a Newbery Honor book,is a masterfully crafted poem.  With its beautiful illustrations, this book highlights the successes and struggles of black Americans throughout history.  This mentor text can be woven across the curriculum in today’s classrooms.  From the history of black Americans to more recent events, this is a book that can be read again and again throughout the year.

Inferring and understanding the author’s message are two skills that students will practice while reading the Undefeated.  

About writing stories in verse, Alexander says,

“As much as poetry is about the words that are there, it is about the words that aren’t there.”

The meaning behind each page will be unique to each student as  they make connections to their personal knowledge of history and current events.  

Creating short video clips using flipgrid and sharing text in Google slides are two ways students can collaborate  to write a partner or group poem about current events, following Alexander’s format, “This is for…”.

 “Most importantly, poetry is about showing not telling.”  ~ Kwame Alexander

It’s important to read books about the journey and history of black Americans throughout the year, and not just during Black History Month. This is a book you will find yourself referring back to over and over again. The Undefeated is a must have for your mentor text collection.

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