Like the star players, these books have the power to be game changers.
.These 3 titles have been checked out 261 times in the past 5 years at GHS!
Every team has a go-to. A special player cool under pressure with a history of being versatile enough to handle any situation at any time. The Bulls had Jordan. The Cavs have LeBron, The Patriots have Brady. The Giants have Bumgarner.
In the same way, every librarian has a go-to for every genre. A book or group of books that seem to always deliver for the most fickle persons in the most difficult times. Like the players, these books have the power to be game-changers
In the realm of nonfiction sports books, there are three that are money in my library. Hoop Dreams by Ben Joravsky, The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, and Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger. Hoop Dreams is biography of Arthur Agee and William Gates, two promising high school basketball players in Chicago whose lives are traced from middle school to college. The Blind Side details the life of college and pro football player Michael Oher, who was raised by a crack addicted mother and adopted at the age of sixteen by a wealthy family and turned on to football. Friday Night Lights follows the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team in Odessa, Texas, exploring the lives of the players and the impact of the championship team on the small town.
Are these books old? Sure. But have the issues changed? Did people in small town America stop going to high school football games? Do athletes with troubled pasts not survive and reach the pinnacle of athletic accomplishments anymore? Have we stopped recruiting middle school prodigies for prestigious college programs?? For Pete's sake!
Therefore, I now consider these books "classics."
Most kids I recommend these books to are kids who are new to the sports genre, or fairly unmotivated guy athletes who have the ability to read, but lack motivation to pick up a book. While these may not be "difficult" cases, they are common and troubling ones. After all, if our goal is to get kids hooked on the process of reading a good book, we need to put something in their hands from the get-go that will lay the foundation of interest. In high school, this is critical. I often see this age as one of our last cracks at creating a lifelong reader. If grades K-8 have done little for a student, often the fresh start of high school is our last best shot. That is why I have these go-to books ready. I fear if the chance is missed, it may never reappear--so I bring out the big guns!
So why are they classic go-to's? Here's the short list.
easy to read
vivid in storytelling
involve a high school setting and an age they can more easily relate to
Problems and conflict are real and identifiable
Characters that are sympathetic or easy to "get"
these are "gateway" books that have other similar titles for student interest progression
Most importantly, they just click, and for whatever reason, kids repeatedly gravitate towards them. These books have developed a reputation in our school through the years as "good stuff." I have seen students that have finished these books and moved up and onto others now counsel other reluctant newbys--taking them right to the sports section, picking the exact book off the shelves, pounding it into their friend's chest saying, "You might like this, dumb-ass."
Could there be any more powerful form of approval from a high school guy!!
Maybe these books will do the trick for your kids, or maybe you have a few others that you can identify as your go-to's. Either way, have someone to give the ball to when the chips are down.