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Charisse K. Richardson, an avid sports fan since she was a child, uses sports to capture the reading interests of children. She is a member of the NBA Read to Achieve All-Star Reading Team. Charisse, a former Corporate Communications Manager, graduated from Howard University and received her MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to writing, she conducts motivational workshops designed to encourage youth to strive for success in the game of life. She lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia.
Q&A with author Charisse RichardsonWhen did you start writing? I’ve been writing since childhood. I’ve always loved to write. I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing or at least letting my imagination run free inside of my head. I didn’t actually begin writing a book until approximately eleven years ago. That was when I sat down to start The Real Slam Dunk. What made you decide to write THE REAL SLAM DUNK? My journey of writing for children actually began in 1994 after volunteering to work with at-risk youth programs and schools in New Jersey and New York City. After repeatedly asking kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, I became increasing disheartened with hearing so many children (especially boys) respond by saying they wanted to become professional athletes or entertainers. Being a big sports fan, on the surface I had no problem with kids wanting to be athletes. Most boys, and a growing number of girls, always have and always will aspire to become professional athletes. After all, who doesn’t want to be like Mike (Michael Jordan)? That seems to have become part of the American dream. Unfortunately, however, for many children that is all that they will ever aspire to become. This realization is what led me to put pen to paper and begin writing The Real Slam Dunk. What would you like young readers to learn from Marcus? Life is about more than your favorite sport. Even if you are the best player in your school, there is no guarantee that you will be good enough to play sports on the professional level. I hope Marcus’s story will encourage young readers to chase more than one dream and work hard to make all of those dreams come true. Hopefully, Marcus’s realization that he is good at basketball and math can also help children realize that they have multiple talents and abilities. Like Marcus, they should work to perfect all of their talents. Are any of your characters based on you or your family? Jason’s character is a compilation of the strong male figures that surrounded me as a child. Although they loved sports, they knew that the value of an education is priceless. Mia’s character is somewhat similar to me as a child. Like her, I was quite inquisitive, a huge sports fan, and wanted to be a reporter. The other child characters in the story were created based on observing and listening to kids interacting with each other and based on my own imagination. What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up? Books by Dr. Seuss, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary. I also enjoyed reading From the Mixed Up Files and About the B’nai Bagels by E.L. Konigsburg. What are you reading now? I usually read a few books at one time. I’m currently reading Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley and Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.
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