One of the great things about having this blog is the constant search and discovery of cool reading resources that somehow involve the sports world. A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a book called Tackle Reading by author and urban literacy specialist Kathryn Starke.
Officially described, Tackle Reading is a resource that will motivate children, support parents, and inspire teachers and fellow educators to love literacy. This book contains stories written by NFL players, celebrities, and authors who are passionate about reading education. It also includes pieces, lesson plans, activities, and guidance provided by literacy leaders, educators, and organizations dedicated to improve literacy instruction for all children.
There are SO many things to really like about this! First, we can all agree that literacy instruction is perhaps the most important plate on the education dinner table. Reading=life. In an era of distracted kids, teaching kids to read AND to love the act of reading itself is essential. They do not exist in isolation. Starke clearly values both, which is why I value her work. The fact that she recognizes that sports is a great vehicle to promote literacy warms my heart to no end, and supports my philosophy!
May I digress slightly? The problem I have with sports(sports figures) and reading thus far is that there needs to be a more constant connection. While having a professional athlete pop into a classroom and read a cute book to kindergartners is fantastic, what really needs to happen is a more consistent dialogue between athletes and young readers. At the middle and high school level, where the stars can no longer come in for a quick reading of Curious George and head out, athlete collaboration hits the wall. Instead, you get some loose reward incentive program from the local pro team that gives stickers or free nosebleed tickets to a Wednesday night game in exchange for whatever each kid wants to fib about in their reading log. How is this personalized? Where's the real connection? Wouldn't it be great if these teenagers could see how their sports stars modeled reading in their everyday life? How cool to see athletes tweeting out what they were reading? Maybe some book clubs? Yes, GENUINE collaboration. Teenagers won't buy into anything without it.
Anyways, I urge you to check out Tackle Reading and Kathryn Starke. I haven't seen too many things out there that try to forge a real, sustainable partnership in this area, but this has promise. Kathryn is smart, she "gets it" when it comes to reading philosophy, and she incorporates sports! Winner! Order her book for your library and get it out to your teachers and parents. If you are a parent, there is great value in Starke's material to promote independent reading at home.