Book Talk
Author Study
Classroom Connections
Web activity
List of Related Books
Related Websites
Coretta Scott King Award
American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
American Library Association Quick Pick

Book Talk
By Michael F. Fonash

    Walter Dean Myers’ novel Slam is a coming of age novel about an inner- city youth who must deal with reality and his future, when all he can see is his the here and now, which revolves around his ingenious basketball skills.  Slam has teachers and family around who are concerned for him and his future, and these individuals push and challenge Slam to achieve not only on the court, but in the classroom as well.  Myers’, in the novel, attempts to use the street jargon of the inner- city to re- create an experience that is as real as possible for his readers.  Myers’ also recreates Slam’s basketball moves and high- flying artistry on the court with words for his reading audience.  This book can satisfy all readers, but I suggest that Secondary teachers make this mandatory reading for students who have outstanding illusions regarding their future and athletics.

  • Author Study
    By Lisa LeCompte

         Walter Dean Myers was born in West Virginia in 1937 but spent most of his childhood in Harlem.  He was raised by foster parents and had both a happy and a horrific life throughout his adolescent years.  He began writing poetry and short stories as a teenager and acquired an early love of reading.  He is now a writer of both children’s and young adult literature.
         Myers dropped out of high school in 1954 and joined the army.  He held many positions with various agencies including the New York State Department of Labor, the post office, a rehabilitation center, and a transformer company.  Throughout this time, however, Myers was still writing for magazines and periodicals.  The turning point in his writing career came when he won a contest run by the Council on Interracial Books for Children with his book Where Does a Day Go? in 1969.  He received his degree from Empire State College in 1984.  He has since supported his wife and four children with his writing in the area of children’s and young adult literature.  In addition to writing he also volunteers at schools in Jersey City where he presently resides.
         Myers feelings towards the young adult novel are as follows: “The special place of the young adult novel should be in its ability to address the needs of the reader to understand his or her relationship with  the world, with each other, and with adults.  The young adult novel often allows the reader to directly identify with a protagonist of similar interests and development.  It is this language of values which I hope to bring to my books.  I want to bring values to those who have not been valued, and I want to etch those values in terms of the ideal.  Young people need ideals which identify them, and their lives as central guideposts which tell them what they can be, should be, and indeed are.”

    Classroom Connections
    by Brooke Coalter

    English - The class will recreate the basketball scenes.  This will give everyone an idea at how much skill Slam really possessed.  It will also give students an idea at how words described the actual game.  There are two ways that the class can recreate these games.  One way is to have students in the class recreate the scenes - or - request to see the schools basketball team play basketball according to the scenes.

    Creative Writing:  Write about what happens to one of the characters in Slam! in about five to ten years after the book ends.  Example of questions that can be written about:  Does Slam get into the NBA?  Does he marry Mtisha?  What happens to Mtisha?  How about Ice, does he stay a dealer or does he give up that life?  You may even write about one of the lesser characters that exist in Slam's life.

    Social Studies:  This book shows the life of Slam outside of school as well.  Do some research about Harlem and then write whether what is described in the book is close to reality.  You may want to look at some pictures that show Harlem, before decided what your opinion is about this area.

    Web activity
    by Erinn Crowley

    Purpose:  To truly understand Slam as a character, let’s learn more about Harlem, where he grew up.  Harlem is the north most region of New York City.  It is an area filled with a mixed history.  While today, it is images of a crime infested area stick in people’s minds.  This Web Quest will help student dismiss all the stereotypes of a special part of New York Culture.

    How:  Student’s will be spilt up into three groups. Two will deal with Harlem’s rich history and the third group will deal with its present state.

    Group one: History from 1900-1940
    On this web site students will choose decades, they can pair up or do it alone.  They must find 5 events in the decade and explain how they relate to one another and why it is significant towards the time period.

    Group two: The Harlem Renaissance: the History and The Artists
    One student will explain what exactly the Harlem Renaissance is.
    Other students will have to pick short stories or painting and explain how it relates to Harlem Renaissance.

    Group Three: Harlem Today
    The students will read this article, summarize it, and then project their ideas of the future for Harlem.


    List of Related Books
     By Brooke Coalter

    Other books written by Walter Dean Myers:
    Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse.  New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
    Crystal.  New York: Viking 1987.
    Darnell Rock Reporting. New York: Delacorte Press, 1994.
    The Dragon Takes a Wife. New York; Scholastic, 1995.
    Fallen Angels.  New York: Scholastic, 1988.
    Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff. New York: Viking, 1975.
    The Glory Field.  New York: Scholastic, 1994.
    Hoops.  New York: Delacorte, 1981.
    The Legend of Tarik. New York: Viking, 1981.
    Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary. New York: Scholastic, 1993.
    Me, Mop, and the Moondance Kid.  New York: Delacorte, 1988.
    Mop, Moondance, and the Nagasaki Knights.  New York: Delacorte, 1992.
    Motown and Didi: A Love Story. New York: Viking, 1984.
    The Mouse Rap.  New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
    Now Is Your Time: The African-American Struggle for Freedom.  New York: HarperCollins, 1991.
    One More River to Cross: An African American Photograph Album.  New York: Harcourt Brace,1996.
    The Outside Shot.  New York: Delacorte, 1984.
    The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner.  New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
    Scorpions.  New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
    Shadow of the Red Moon. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
    Somewhere in the Darkness. New York: Scholastic, 1992.
    Won't Know Till I Get There. New York: Viking, 1982.
    The Young Landlords. New York: Viking, 1979.


    Related Websites

    Another Slam! Book Study-
    A third Slam! Book Study-
    Walter Dean Myers-
    Fallen Angels-
    Walter Dean Myers-
    Walter Dean Myers Web Site Design-
    More of Walter Dean Myers' Books-