wdmcs_reads_logomarkThe West Des Moines Community School district is excited to announce the launch of WDMCS Reads: One district, many communities, one book.

About WDMCS Reads

This new initiative celebrates the “community” in West Des Moines Community Schools. Spanning portions of West Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, and Windsor Heights, the district invites people from all of our communities to come together to read and discuss the same book.

How You Can Participate

Build a Reader Community: Gather together your neighbors, children, co-workers, new residents, and others to read and talk. If you already have a book club, consider our WDMCS Reads selection as your next book. Maybe join another book club in reading the book.

“The Crossover” Discussion Questions

Create a “Pass it Forward” Community: Build a community by purchasing and reading the WDMCS Reads selection and passing it forward. A special WDMCS Reads bookplate offered free of charge can be placed on the front inside cover the book you have purchased.  Bookplates are available at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, and at Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Avenue, West Des Moines.

A special WDMCS Reads bookplate offered free of charge can be placed on the front inside cover the book you have purchased.  Bookplates are available at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, and at Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Avenue, West Des Moines.

  • Write your name on the first line of the bookplate.
  • After you read the book, write your name on the next line of the bookplate, and pass the book to someone else to enjoy.
  • If you are the last person to write your name in the bookplate, please consider donating this book to a local public or school library. Your donation will grow the book’s community of readers.


The Book

wdmcs_reads_crossover_book_coverOur inaugural book selection is “The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal and 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

“The Crossover,” a novel in verse, shares the story of seventh-grade basketball phenomenon Josh Bell, but the book is far more than a “sports book.” Josh navigates the confusing world of sibling rivalry, girls, parental expectations, friends, school, competition, and family struggles. At its core, “The Crossover” is about family and growing up and the challenges and rewards that come with both. Readers will find themselves somewhere in this book whether they be siblings, parents, family members, friends, teenagers, team members, fans, music lovers, or poets.

The book is available at the following locations:

  • West Des Moines Public Library, 4000 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines;
  • Clive Public Library, 1900 NW 114th St., in Clive;
  • Urbandale Public Library, 3520 86th St., in Urbandale;
  • Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Ave., in West Des Moines.

The Culminating Event

See the event on Facebook

UPDATE from March 31: Kwame Alexander’s presentation and book signing tonight, March 31, have been canceled due to unforeseen travel delays. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, especially those who may have traveled to see him speak. We invite you to still participate in WDMCS Reads by reading, enjoying, and passing on his book, “The Crossover,” and sharing his passion for poetry.


Just in time for the NCAA March Madness Final Four games, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will host Kwame Alexander, author of the “The Crossover,” a novel about a teenage basketball player. Alexander will give a public reading and sign copies of his novel-in-verse at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 at the Staplin Performing Arts Center, Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave. in West Des Moines. This event is free and open to the public.

Alexander will also meet with West Des Moines Community Schools students from across the district on Friday, April 1.

Alexander is a poet, educator, and author of 21 books, including “The Crossover,” which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, and many other awards.

His other works include the award-winning children’s picture book “Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band,” recently optioned as a children’s television show, and the Junior Library Selection, “He Said She Said,” a YA novel.

In “The Crossover,” Alexander uses basketball as a hook to get young readers to read poetry. He believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his Book-in-a-Day literacy program, which has created more than 3,000 student authors at 69 schools across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. A regular speaker and workshop presenter at conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love.

To learn more about Kwame Alexander, visit www.KwameAlexander.com.


WDMCS Reads Poetry Writing Contest

The West Des Moines Public Library and the West Des Moines Community Schools are holding the WDMCS Reads Poetry Writing Contest through Feb. 29

WDMCS Reads celebrates our community by inviting the residents to read and discuss the same book. In the inaugural WDMCS Reads book selection “The Crossover,” author Kwame Alexander shares the story of seventh-grade basketball phenomenon Josh Bell in an authentic voice through verse. For more information about WDMCS Reads, please visit www.wdmcs.org/wdmcs-reads.

Share your own original poetry by submitting an entry to the WDMCS Reads poetry writing contest through Feb. 29.

Contest Rules

  • The writing contest is open to all ages. Age brackets are:
    • K-3
    • 4-6
    • 7-9
    • 10-12
    • Adult
  • Entries are limited to one per person.
  • Entries must fit on one 8.5” x 11” page
  • Entries must include the following information:
    • Name
    • Age bracket
    • School & Grade (for students)
    • Email address or phone (for adults or parent/guardian)
  • Entries must be original and in English
  • Entries will not be returned to authors
  • Students may submit their entries at their schools. The list of schools is available here: https://www.wdmcs.org/district/our-schools/
  • Adults may submit their entries at the West Des Moines Library, 4000 Mills Civic Pkwy, in West Des Moines.
  • Entries may also be submitted to Jenna.Ehler@wdm.iowa.gov.  
  • Entry deadline is Feb. 29.
  • Winners will be announced March 10 on the Des Moines Register online and at www.wdmcs.org/wdmcs-reads or www.wdmlibrary.org.
  • Winners will receive a signed copy of “The Crossover” or other book by Kwame Alexander, depending on the winner’s age, and be invited to a special meet-and-greet with Mr. Alexander during his visit to Valley High School on March 31.
  • Entries will be on display in library display case and winners will be on display at Staplin Performing Arts Center in West Des Moines.