Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sports Teams Encourage Reading

Today, most people understand the importance of reading and keeping kids engaged in reading all year. Throughout the year, there are many formal programs around the country that encourage kids to read. One of the biggest is the NEA's Read Across America program, which is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. This NEA Program is meant to keep children reading 365 days a year. According to the NEA:

Across America, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA's Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And teachers and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students' reading.

Read Across America allows for local communities to shape their own programs. President Obama and First Lady Michelle are big backers. Entertainment celebrities promote the program as well. Kids can see Justin Bieber reading The Cat in the Hat.

Some programs are meant to encourage reading through friendly competition. One program that is close to us at Sporting Chance Press is America's Battle of the Books, a reading incentive program for students in grades 3rd-12th that selected Maddie Takes the Ice as one of its books for 2011. Students read books and come together to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the ones they have read. The competitions vary depending upon the needs, resources and personal preferences at various school sites or at the regional/state competition levels.

Sports Teams Are Involved

Many professional sports teams back reading programs. Often they work with local libraries to encourage kids to participate in reading programs--including summer programs that typically provide sign up sheets and logs that formally record individual reading activity and measure achievement that is often awarded with prizes donated by the teams and other businesses.

For example the WNBA’s Chicago Sky teams up with the Chicago Public Library for their annual Chicago City of Big Readers summer reading program. This year’s program offers eight weeks of free activities and prizes at Chicago’s 79 public libraries. According to the Sky web site:

Chicago Sky players will host twelve “Reading Time Outs” at various library branches, working to promote library exploration, while also reading stories to some of the 45,000 plus children involved.

Sporting Chance Press author Patrick McCaskey is a Senior Director of the Chicago Bears. The Bears are deeply involved in literacy programs. 2011 was the seventh consecutive year that the Chicago Bears have partnered with ComEd to offer “Tales to Tackle,” for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. The program provides a reading notebook that features pictures of Bears players, includes a list of suggested books and has plenty of space for students to write book reports and keep track of the books that they read. The program encourages students to read three teacher-approved books each month during a three-month period. For younger Bear fans, Staley’s “Tackle Reading” program targets students in 1st through 5th grades.

Many Teams Take Part

Most professional sports teams and their players give back to the community. Often they include programs that involve reading. Here are just a few reading related programs that involved sports teams:

Each year, the New York Football Giants participate in the National Education Association's (NEA) "Read Across America" program by visiting numerous schools in the NY area.

In St. Louis, the baseball Cardinals are a sponsor of the library's reading program donating hundreds of tickets used for prizes.

The LA Dodgers Dream Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and the Los Angeles Times join forces for the annual Team Think Blue Program, which helps students improve their literacy and language arts while encouraging the development of a healthy and active lifestyle.

The NBA Champion, Dallas Mavericks, offer the annual Mavs Reading Challenge to 2nd-5th grade students, which supports the NBA's Read to Achieve literacy program.

PGA golfers participate in the Reading Above Par program an extension of Wells Fargo’s Reading First program.

Professional athletes and their teams have a great opportunity to influence kids in positive ways. We salute the many who are supporting reading.

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