Allison's Book Bag

Sports, Photography, and Books!

Posted on: February 24, 2014

Charles Smith combines his love of reading, photography, and sports when he writes books. Tomorrow I’ll post an interview where he talks about those three passions. I’ll review his picture book, I am The World, on Wednesday. Save the dates: February 25-26!

Born and raised in California, Charles Smith spent a lot of time reading collections of stories and poems. “Many hours were spent with characters traveling the world, solving mysteries, or living in a different time in history,” Smith writes on his About Me page. Reading inspired Smith to write. The more he read; the more he wrote.

With the Library of Congress, one thing about reading which Smith stressed is that it’s important for young people to realize that authors read more than just novels. While Smith enjoyed popular authors of the time such as Judy Blume and series such as the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, he also read comics, magazines, and even the dictionary. One example that stands out is Time Magazine, which helped Smith become aware of the world. He also got a kick out of looking at images in National Geographic.

CharlesSmith_PhotographerGrowing up, Smith also spent a lot of time playing sports. He played everything, particularly basketball, and spent many afternoons on the court perfecting his jump shot. Today sports figures hugely in his books. Rimshots, his first book, is about pix, rolls, and rhythms in basketball. It’s a collection of stories and poems mixed with black and white photos. While many of his picture books focus on basketball, Smith has diverse sports interests. For example, Diamond Life is about the sights, sounds, and swings of baseball. Smith believes that many of the skills in life that have made him successful have come from playing sports.

During a stint on the high school yearbook committee, Smith fell in love with photography. He decided to make it a lifetime pursuit. According to his About Me page, “Right up until that point I wanted to be an astronaut and walk on the moon, but after taking yearbook pictures nonstop for a year, I knew I wanted to learn how to be a professional photographer.” Smith graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography and moved to New York to pursue his dream.

Smith didn’t forget, however, about his other loves. He continued writing, with an influence of rap music, he especially started to focus on poems. However, when it comes to writing children’s books, Smith explained to Reading Rockets that he kind of slipped into the back door. He approached a children’s book publisher about going photographic book covers. The art director who hires the photographers saw his collection of photographs of guys playing basketball and told him, “These pictures should be their own book.” Smith mentioned that he was a writer and the result was Rim Shots.

Since then, many of his books have celebrated sports, but also heroes who inspired him, and childhood interests such as myths. To read more about his varied inspirations, check out his interview with Reading Rockets. Smith currently lives in New York with his wife and three kids.

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