Elijah and Isaiah Smith are brothers and straight A, middle school students living in New York State. While both boys are extremely talented, they have often struggled with bullying and being accepted due to their height. However, once on the basketball court their talent cannot be disputed. The brothers have collectively landed awards from most defensive player to team MVP. Although basketball is their favorite pastime, the brothers both sing, play trumpet, the French horn, piano and recorder, while also running track and have recently been scouted to play lacrosse. Now, with the help of their mom and in response to the bullying they have at times encountered, the brothers have co-authored their first children’s book, Pick me, Pick me! The Smith brothers hope “Pick Me, Pick Me!” will inspire people, young and old, to follow their dreams and reach for the stars.
Exclusive Interview by: LaDonna N. Smith #proudmom
Tell me a little bit about your book and the inspiration behind it.
Elijah and Isaiah S: Pick Me, Pick Me! is a children’s book about a young boy named Cree who is bullied and sometimes underestimated by his teammates because of his height. My younger brother and I were inspired to write Pick Me, Pick Me! because at times we have been underestimated by bigger players and even coaches. We wanted to write a book to remind other young undersized ballers that size doesn't matter if you have talent.
How does it feel to be a published author?
Elijah S: It feels great to be an author at such a young age. I love reading and writing, and because I'm so young I have the opportunity to write more books over the years. It feels like a dream when I'm visiting schools to talk to other kids. Some kids say that they're inspired by me being a young author. I never thought I would be an inspiration to other kids, but it does feel good to help other kids want to follow their dreams.
Isaiah S: It feel good to be a published author at the age of 12. I think being so young helps because we write books for kids who are our age (since we’re kids, we know what kids like). When my brother and I visit schools to talk to kids, so many of them can’t believe that two kids their age wrote a book. Some even said they want to write books or start a business too. It feels good to inspire other kids to do something positive.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Isaiah S: Seeing my mom start her own company inspired me to turn my talents into a business. My brother and I started “Balling With The Smith Brothers,” a program where we teach basketball skills, and also do motivational speaking about bullying prevention and following your dreams.
What advice would you give to someone asking for advice about becoming an entrepreneur?
Elijah S: I would tell other kids/people that are interested in entrepreneurship to find a great team to help you start your business. It can be your parents, friends, or even your brother or sister. My mom always says “Every successful business has a great team helping them to be great!”
What’s your daily routine like?
Elijah S: I wake up and walk to school (LLA), and once school is out it’s homework, study hall, and basketball training in my backyard or at the gym.
Isaiah S: Wake up, go to school, homework, and basketball. (Eat, Sleep, and repeat).
Besides basketball, what are some of your hobbies?
Elijah S: Besides basketball, I would love to play football, lacrosse, or soccer. A few coaches have invited me to play Lacrosse, maybe my next book will be about my first time playing lacrosse.
Isaiah S: Besides basketball I wouldn't mind playing football and lacrosse. Both of these sports seem fun and require a lot of hard work and practice just like basketball.
What should a young person do if they're being bullied or see someone else being bullied?
Elijah S: I would tell them to tell a teacher or parent. I would also tell them to ignore the bully and never let the words or actions of anyone else define them.
Isaiah S: My mom always says “hurt people, hurt people.” I would tell young people to ask an adult for help as well as have an adult help the bully. Although it’s no excuse to be a bully, sometimes a bully may be going through something and simply taking their frustrations out on others.
Along with being authors you both also review children’s books, correct? Do you believe that being a children’s book reviewer helps you to write good stories for children?
Elijah S: Yes! We have a book club that we run every summer. We get all kinds of awesome books from all over the country to review. The books that we read, help us get ideas for more stories and even cool ideas of things to add to our books. Last summer, I read a book by an author named “Chris McClean.” His books are interactive and allows the reader to put themselves in the story. I want to do something like this in my next book.
Isaiah S: There is also another author named “Andrea Scott” whose books we read last year. Her books comes in both English and Spanish. I thought that was pretty cool. Since a lot of our friends and family speak Spanish, we want to incorporate the Spanish language in our next book so we can reach more kids.
Who is your favorite author?
Elijah S: My favorite author is my mother. Other than her, I like “Tom Angleberger.” He writes some awesome books. He writes the type of books that you can’t put down because you just want to know what happens next so bad.
Isaiah S: My favorite children’s book author is my mom. I also like reading the Scary Stories Series (retold by Alvin Schwartz- Scholastic).
Who is your hero and why?
Elijah and Isaiah S: We would have to say our parents. Our parent’s work very hard to take care of us and to help bring out the best in us and our younger sister and brother.
Can we expect more books from you guys?
Elijah S: I do want to write more books. I have so many story ideas and I can’t wait until it’s time to work on my next book.
Isaiah S: My future plans are to write more books. Since bullying happens a lot nowadays, I want to keep writing books to help prevent bullying and suicides from happening to young children and even adults.
How can you be reached if someone is interested in your products or services?
We can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, on our publishers website at www.fydpublishing.com/books, or directly on our Facebook page facebook.com/ballingwiththesmithbrothers.
Pick Me, Pick Me! is the lively story of a young boy named Cree, one of the shortest boys on the Bull Dogs basketball team. This full-color illustrated book for young readers follows Cree as he struggles with being accepted by his teammates, learns to perfect his game, and eventually helps the Bulldogs win a championship basketball game-all despite his height. The book includes a glossary of common basketball terms for those new to the sport and a “Little Baller, Big Game” goal activity page to help motivate young readers to reach for the stars.