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

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  797 ratings  ·  170 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. H ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda Books (R) (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  797 ratings  ·  170 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 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
Apr 03, 2013 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 sto ...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
Jul 29, 2013 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!
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
Love this book! It may be just because I love basketball, but I enjoy incorporating a true story in a fun way. The illustrations made the information given by this book come to life.
Melyssa LeDay
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Spencer Jones
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book because it shows how my favorite sport was created! I always knew that it was created by James Naismith during a gym class but I did not know he created it so his class would not be so rowdy and to try something new and exciting. This book is non fiction and in the 2nd-4th grade range
Keely Daly
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was suggested as a 6th grade reading book. It is VERY short and more of a picture book for 2nd graders.
Jo Oehrlein
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, picture-books
A book for kids who love basketball or just kids who can imagine being super active and needing something to wear themselves out.
Cynthia Gannon
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Be sure to share this book with you Physical Education teacher to learn why basketball was invented! Sounds like a game one of my former PE teachers, Mr. Tsakonas, would have created!!
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about the start of basketball. It helps students understand about being persistent and patient with others and working hard to make your dreams come true.
A very simplistic story about James Naismith and his ingenious idea to invent a game which will engage and occupy the energy and minds of a rowdy group of young men...and basketball is born!
Hoop Genius has provided me with a hook to grab the attention of students whose attention I don't always manage to grab. The story of James Naismith and his efforts to get the interest of his own rowdy group (who had already managed to run off two other teachers) is presented with few words, dry humor, bold and subtly funny illustrations (see if your students notice the increasing numbers of bandages with each failed "experiment"). Aside from being an interesting story in and of itself, this boo ...more
Rebekah McGarvey
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was unique in its illustrations and detailed as well. The author does a good job of showing how basketball got started, and it would be good for students to see how something so "normal" in today's world actually began.
Tori Crumrine
Illustrations look like they are done in a paint and colored pencil or pen.

This nonfiction book is about why and how basketball was invented.

The end pages depict the first draft of the game of basketball, which is super cool. This is definitely a non fiction book rather than informational because everything is accurately depicted.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent little story about Naismith and fun to use for March Madness intro. Great author notes and bibliography. I especially love the illustrations since you can talk about the artist rendering of large hands with basketball. I use it with 6th graders as a foundation to explain how our book March Madness works.
Jim Erekson
Sep 26, 2013 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). M ...more
Sep 19, 2016 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
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting and entertaining book based on the true history of basketball. Colorful illustrations depict physical education in the late 1800's. A fantastic biography for children, this would be a great book to use in the classroom to talk about basketball or even the general concept of inventions.
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 25, 2015 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 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 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 necessar ...more
Sharon Dillon
Nov 01, 2015 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.
Feb 29, 2016 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 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 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 cha ...more
Nov 29, 2012 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 aggre ...more
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John Coy is the author of young adult novels, the 4 for 4 middle-grade series, and fiction and nonfiction picture books. His most recent books are Their Great Gift, a story about immigration with striking photographs by Wing Young Huie and Gap Life, a YA novel about a boy whose parents will pay for college as long as he studies what they want.
John has received numerous awards for his work includi