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Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  628 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
Taking over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation is not something James Naismith wants to do at all. The last two teachers of this class quit in frustration. The students--a bunch of energetic young men--are bored with all the regular games and activities. Naismith needs something new, exciting, and fast to keep the class happy...or someone's going to get hurt. ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Sunday Cummins
Read aloud to 1st-2nd grades
Read aloud and reread aloud as mentor text for writing research 3rd-5th grades

Hoop Genius is a narrative about how basketball came to be - a gym teacher was trying to figure out how to engage a rambunctious group of young men in a game indoors. In simple prose, Coy tells the story of James Naismith who was trying to solve a problem - many athletic sports in 1891 (soccer, football, etc) were not appropriate for indoors when he came up with the idea (and rules) of a ba
Dec 07, 2014 April added it
Shelves: lis7210, childrens

Sometimes I wonder why books like Locomotive and this one are considered children's books. People of all ages would benefit from history picture books.

The mustaches.
This book is a very short story about why basketball was invented. It would make a good book to carry with me for those times when I am subbing and have some extra time for a read-aloud. There are two things about the book, though, that leave me a bit unsatisfied.

First of all, the rules that Naismith came up with are included on the fly leafs (leaves?), but they are not part of the text of the story. It would have been interesting to me to have them included in the story - and the reason those s
Oct 06, 2013 Barbara rated it really liked it
Ah, basketball! The popular sport that consumes the imaginations of many for months at a time, even to the point that the whole month of March is dedicated to the removal of teams as they march toward the national championship is the focus of this delightful picture book. But it wasn't always so! Most sports fans already know that James Naismith "invented" the sport of basketball, relying on two peach baskets into which the balls would be thrown. But what they may not know is the rest of the ...more
I enjoy high school and college basketball. There was not one thing I liked about this title. There was really not enough information about the beginnings of basketball. The language was stilted and the illustrations were very unappealing--almost scary.
Michelle Haseltine
Aug 13, 2013 Michelle Haseltine rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!!! I'm from Springfield, MA so this story is personally important to me. I will definitely read this to my sixth graders!
Nov 29, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Very nice. I enjoyed that and learned about basketball's birth.
Oct 15, 2016 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
This book would be perfect for a group of kids who love sports or any rowdy boys, especially those who do not like reading. It breaks the text up into small excerpts among detailed, shaded pictures that span the entire page. It gives the history of basketball and explains exactly why a sport with a net is called *basket*ball. This would be perfect for primary elementary, especially as an introduction to nonfiction.
Sep 28, 2016 Mark rated it liked it
Interesting story, pictures turned me off.
Jim Erekson
Sep 26, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
Morse's illustrations are mesmerizing. I looked and relooked at the wildly exagerrated figure drawings of the gym class. The crowded compositions ensure overlapping of huge hands, lanky arms and too-long necks, and mustachioed heads. The feeling of chaos told about in the text is told much further and better in the pictures. It's one of the few complementary illustration sets I've read in the past weeks (the complementary relationship to the text is true for many, but not all of the pictures). ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-kids
I read this to a group of 5-12 year olds this summer and they LOVED it
I received an electronic ARC through NetGalley.

I loved this nonfiction picture book about the invention of basketball. James Naismith takes over a gym class that is so rowdy that it has caused two teachers to quit. The class does not like the typical indoor gym activities of the time (1891), so Naismith tries indoor football, soccer, and lacrosse. The students are so rough there are many injuries.

Naismith has to come up with something that can be played indoors and does not promote contact betw
Christy Cryer
Jun 26, 2015 Christy Cryer rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Twin Text: Levi Strauss Gets a New Pair of Pants: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants by Tony Johnston, 2011

Rationale: In Hoop Genius, we learn that James Naismith had a big problem with an especially rowdy gym class he was teaching. As he tried to come up with an activity that would be less rough than the standard games of football, soccer, and lacrosse but still be engaging, he invented basketball. Levi Strauss also came across a problem that needed to be solved. Both stories offer ex
Sharon Dillon
Nov 01, 2015 Sharon Dillon rated it it was amazing
Week 8 Historical Fiction Picture Book
The story takes place in 1891 about a teacher, James Naismith, took over a rowdy gym class that no one wanted to teach. To get the students attention, he tried football (too rough), indoor soccer (too rough), lacrosse (too rough) and nothing seemed to work. He needed a game that involved no tacking, no running with a ball. Basketball was invented and the students all eagerly wanted to play and because of not wanting to foul and sit out, it was not too rough.
Sharon Lawler
The Springfield MA gym class had already forced two teachers to quit, and James Naismith really didn’t want to take the job of teaching this group, but he accepted. The young men had no interest in calisthenics or gymnastics, so Naismith tried indoor versions of football, soccer, and lacrosse. These were exciting enough, but the illustrations imply that they incurred many injuries. Naismith needed something totally new and he decided to try one more experiment. His new game was influenced by the ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, because I never really knew the history behind the game of basketball. I knew it had originally been played with peach baskets and was invented by a teacher. I was amused at how this book shows the innovation of a teacher who is desperate to corral a bunch of rowdy students, especially because I am a teacher. I also liked how it demonstrated the trial and error involved in creating the game. I think it is important for kids to realize that great things don't ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Disa rated it really liked it
A Monarch Award Winner among many other awards

In 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts, a very hesitant James Naismith is unsure of his future as a Gym Teacher due to the very rowdy gym class he was asked to teach. Two teachers before him couldn't handle the job so it was up to Naismith to turn things around. The very energetic students want more. They are tired and bored with the regular games and activities. Reflecting on what to do next, Naismith remembers playing Duck on a Rock as a
Laura Salas
Feb 12, 2013 Laura Salas rated it really liked it
It's a brilliant title, really, because who's not going to identify with a desperate teacher and a rowdy gym class?

I worked with a latchkey before/after-school program for a year or two, and I remember gym time well. It was the kids' favorite time--they could MOVE! But it was also a challenge to come up with games we could play that the kids loved but that wouldn't end with broken bones. This was James Naismith's dilemma, as well.

This brief picture book tells the cool story of one teacher deter
Feb 15, 2013 Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
When teacher James Naismith took over a gym class of rowdy boys in 1891, it seemed like nothing could get them under control. He tried indoor football, soccer, and even lacrosse – but all were too rough. He needed to get the boys to stop fighting. That’s when he came up with a game that involved no tackling, no running with the ball, and very little touching. Using a soccer ball and a peach basket, Mr. Naismith invented basketball, finally getting his gym class to stop hurting each other and ...more
Nov 29, 2012 Nan rated it it was amazing
Hoop Genius is a picture book (Gr 2-5) about the earliest beginnings of basketball, a game invented by a determined teacher, James Naismith. It tells the story of the process of trial and error, as Naismith struggles to discover an indoor game that would keep a rowdy class of male students engaged in gym class. The illustrations, by award-winner Joe Morse, effectively capture the nature of typically energetic and rambunctious teenagers. Readers today will easily recognize the same physical ...more
Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, written by John Coy and illustrated by Joe Morse, is a nominee for the 2015-2016 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Hoop Genius introduces readers young and old to James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. This young teacher, eager to find a way to keep an energetic group of boys engaged (and injury-free), used a soccer ball and a couple of peach baskets to create a fun new game. This game would eventually be spread
When I was in high school a long time ago we had to study the rules, the history and how to play every sport. This included basketball, and I loved basketball! That's why, after so many years, I still remember the story of James Naismith and how/why he invented the game of basketball. Some of the story is new to me from this book, but I loved hearing about his challenge to make this "rowdy class" like what was happening in their class, learn something new, and be excited about it. The book ...more
James Naismith was a young teacher who had a problem. He took over an out-of-control and bored gym class in 1891. He needed to figure something out. He tried having them play all his favorite sports: football, soccer, and lacrosse, but nothing worked. They played too rough. Naismith then thought about a game of accuracy he played as a boy and started modifying it. He even asked the custodian for help with a goal. He asked for square boxes but got two old peach baskets instead, and lo and behold, ...more
Teresa Scherping
Oct 24, 2013 Teresa Scherping rated it it was amazing
In 1891, James Naismith was put in charge of a gym class that no one else wanted to teach. The boys were rowdy and energetic but bored with repetitive exercises. First, Naismith tried indoor football, indoor soccer, and indoor lacrosse. All of them were much too rowdy. Instead Naismith got the idea for a sport that was more about finesse than brute strength. With a round ball and two peach baskets, "basketball" was born. It quickly spread around the country and around the world, and Naismith was ...more
Elissa Schaeffer
Jun 10, 2014 Elissa Schaeffer rated it liked it
I grew up watching my dad coach high school basketball, yet I never knew anything about the history of the sport until now. What a fascinating beginning! I loved how Naismith refused to give up and how he tried and tried and tried to find something to do with the class without much success. I liked how some of it just happened to work out that way (like the peach baskets). I liked how it seemed to spread from person to person just because they enjoyed it.

Now, however, I'm curious to know how it
Mar 30, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: monarch-2016
Who invented basketball and how? James Naismith became a gym teacher in 1891, after taking over a class that made 2 gym teachers quit. He tried every sport with this class: indoor football, soccer, lacrosse, but they were too rowdy and they found none of these games exciting. Therefore, he decided to invent his own game. To keep the boys from hurting each other he called fouls for everything, and the goal of the game was to get a soccer ball in the peach basket. The game worked; the boys loved ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it
James Naismith, a young teacher with a rowdy gym class, invented the game of basketball in 1891. Faced with an unruly class, he knew he needed to invent a game that was challenging, required physical limitations, and relied on skill over strength. I especially like that the story did not end with the invention of the game but shows the students teaching their friends and women teachers from a nearby school learning to play.

I enjoyed the story and simple writing, which is perfect for students in
Nov 27, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it
"In December of 1891, James Naismith, a young teacher, took over a rowdy gym class that had already forced two teachers to quit."

And so begins the timeline to a new invention. Indoor football was too dangerous, indoor soccer and indoor lacrosse didn't work either. He needed a game in which "accuracy was more valuable than force." Remembering a childhood game known as Duck on a Rock, Naismith invents the game of basketball using a peach basket and a soccer ball.

I love the end pages that replicate
Oct 25, 2015 Giovanna rated it it was amazing
This short picture book, for all ages, is about how a regular PE teacher gets hold of a wild group of students, and invents the famous game of basketball. Personally, this book is my favorite, because I finally knew how and why basketball was invented, and the story behind it is just amazing! Also, I liked the book's images and designs, and also the text in this short book made me feel as if I was there when the event happened. I loved how James Naismith, the gym/p.e teacher, never gave up on ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, Illustrated by Joe Morse
Caroirhoda Books, 2013
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

A simple yet engaging account of how James Naismith took over a rowdy gym class that had already driven away two teachers that year. Naismith wanted to come up with something that the boys would enjoy playing, that wasn't too dangerous. The end result is of course, basketball!
The illustrations are an interesting choice
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John Coy is an award-winning author, who worked as a dishwasher, mattress maker, group home worker, and tour guide before taking up writing. He's active in sports and is a member of the NBA Reading All-Star Team as part of the Read to Achieve program. John has traveled to all fifty states as well as to many countries internationally.

His work includes Night Driving, a Marion Vannett Ridgway Memori
More about John Coy...

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