Lit Literature: Black and White

My Go-to For Reluctant Readers

A review of Black and White by Paul Volponi

Black and White by Paul Volponi is the cornerstone of my classroom library! It is the first book that I book talk, the book that goes missing without fail every quarter, and the novel that I hand to all of my reluctant readers. This novel is the English teacher’s dream! Jump to the end of this classroom review of Black and White by Paul Volponi to see a breakdown of the novel’s details.

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What drew me to Black and White:

The main characters Marcus and Eddie (called Black and White) have a deep friendship, despite their different ethnicities. There’s also no romance plotline here, which is sometimes hard to find. This book is all action, tension, and suspense.

A review of Black and White by Paul Volponi for high school teachers

What makes this literature “LIT?”

Firstly, the main characters in Black and White are relatable: they’re high school seniors who just want to be involved in normal graduation experiences, are a little short on cash, and dream of making it big in basketball. They’re great friends and incredibly loyal.

But money is tight. They begin robbing people to pay for senior banquet and other activities. Their plan seems to go working, until their gun accidentally goes off.

The rest of the book is nothing but tension! Will one turn the other in? Will they lose their scholarships? Will they spend senior year in jail instead?

The narrative switches between the perspectives of the two boys, which keeps the reader on his toes. Every chapter leaves the reader wanting to know more. Volponi is also able to touch on issues in the criminal justice system, without overly politicizing the storyline.

A classroom review of Black and White by Paul Volponi

Who do I recommend Black and White for?

I can spot the lovers of this book a mile away! The perfect reader match is that basketball player who slumps into the classroom proclaiming (proudly) that he or she hasn’t read a book since middle school. Most of the students I see pick this one up are male, but I have had some girls check this one out too. (They do all tend to be basketball fans, though.)

I usually book talk Black and White by reading the excerpt of the gun accidentally going off. From there, it’s usually a mad dash to check out one of my copies. I try to keep at least 5-6 copies on my shelf, but they go missing so often that it’s not always possible. If you have a limited budget and need to start small, I highly recommend making Black and White by Paul Volponi one of the first additions to your classroom library!

Is this a title you keep on your shelf? Add your experience, review, or thoughts in the comments!

Looking for something a little different for you classroom library? Try a little historical fiction with Belle Epoque, some epic fantasy with Children of Blood and Bone, or a realistic story of a trans man struggling with his identity in I am J.

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