H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination

Written and Illustrated by: Christopher Myers

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Take a few moments before you begin to check out the cover and illustrations, summarizing what your child thinks the book will explore and asking questions like these about illustrations and descriptions you see. 

The book is called H.O.R.S.E., but I don’t see any horses in here. Do you know why the book is called that?

What do you notice about the illustrations in this book? How are they similar to, or different than, the pictures in many other books you have read?

Notice the different settings on each page. Are the kids on a basketball court? The city? Outer space? How do you think it’s possible for them to be in all of these places?

What do you think will happen in this story based on the pictures we have seen so far?


Activate Prior Knowledge

Talk to your child about his/her interest in basketball. "It looks like these two kids are playing basketball. Do you like basketball? Do you know the rules of basketball?" If your child already knows the game, H.O.R.S.E., have him/her remind you of how it is played.

As You Read

Vocabulary Building

The first time you read a story, consider going through the whole book, and only stopping if your child asks for help with a word. If s/he is reading independently, ask your child to stop when s/he gets to a new word in the story. If you are still working through the story with your child, stop to discuss unfamiliar words on your subsequent readings. Encourage your child to discover a word’s meaning by using the illustrations and words surrounding it. Examples of new words from H.O.R.S.E. include:


Make Connections

Every once in awhile you and your child can make predictions about whether or not one of the boys will make a ridiculous shot. You can make connections to previous parts of the story by saying, "He made the shot before this one, do you think he will make this one? Why/why not? Also, do simple comprehension checks, followed by making connections to your child’s everyday life. For example, “Whoa, did he just actually dunk that ball with his tongue? How is that possible?” 

After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

To ensure comprehension, ask your child about what happened in the book. Who were the main characters, and what were the primary places? What happened in the story? Ask your child the following questions after finishing to further explore his/her understanding of the book:

What was your favorite shot described in the story?. Now that you have read the story, how is it possible that the main characters were in so many settings?

Does anyone actually win or lose this game of H.O.R.S.E. during the story? Why or why not?

Imagine you were playing H.O.R.S.E. with these kids. Tell me about the craziest, out-of-this-world shot that you think you could make!


Read the Author’s Note at the end of this book.

The author, Christopher Meyers, says he made this book about his friends and what they do together. What do you like to do with your friends? Whatever it is, how could you make it zanier and more imaginative, like the game of H.O.R.S.E. in this book?

Extended Learning Exploration

Play H.O.R.S.E (or G.H.O.S.T)!


Find the nearest basketball court to your home. Then, grab a basketball, and go out to play your own game of H.O.R.S.E.! At first, play a traditional game, trying to make each other’s shots. Then, tell your child that s/he should imagine it is the final scene in H.O.R.S.E., and it’s time to outdo the outer space shot! Have your child tell you all about the shot s/he is going to make! See if you can top it, and then go back and forth just like the main characters in the story.


STEM Extension

Why can basketball players get a better grip on certain balls than others? Find out why with this page on National Geographic Kids about basketballs and how different materials affect the way that players can hold a ball. Scientists tested out the difference between two different types of balls: synthetic (manmade) and leather. They found that the leather absorbed the sweat of the players better and made it easier for them to hold (due to it having more friction), whereas the synthetic ball kept the sweat on the surface. 


Try This Out

If you have time, go around and take photos of your neighborhood. Print them, and have your child cut out buildings, houses, or scenes, and then use those to create the setting for a scene in your own H.O.R.S.E. story. S/he draws the two of you, much like the book, and uses collage and real images for the background for the “next shot” in H.O.R.S.E.