Football Inspires Reading
by Cate Bonner
For four years now, the NFL and NFL Alumni have taken part in Tackle Reading, a nationwide urban literacy education initiative in the United States. With the return of the NFL draft, athletes are using their positive influence and passion for reading to motivate children learning at home during these uncertain times. The same football players they love to watch on TV believe in the power of reading and its importance in every person’s life.
Many parents rely on teachers and tutors to teach their children to read; reading is one of the most complex subjects to teach, often with the least amount of support. While remote learning and virtual teaching opportunities support literacy, it cannot provide direct, differentiated instruction of reading. We know that. While parents struggle with this task themselves, one tiny piece can make an impact in setting students up for success when they return to school in the fall-motivation. That’s where the Tackle Reading program comes in. Tackle Reading promotes a love of literacy with a passion for football.
Tackle Reading is a book by Kathryn Starke that motivates children to read and provides tools for parents, educators, and others committed to children’s reading to assist these young students in their development of literacy skills. The book contains stories by NFL players, among other contributing authors. Starke’s second book, A Touchdown in Reading: An Elementary Educator’s Guide to Literacy Instruction will be available this summer, just in time for a school year when quality literacy education must take precedence.
This national school library month, thanks to the support of NFL/NFL/WNFC athlete leaders, Creative Minds Publications is bringing Tackle Reading directly into your home to help families in reading. Starke, a literacy expert, has created a free downloadable educational reading football activity book and football calendar for families to enjoy together. She has provided coaching reading tips from NFL athletes and Hall of Fame members including Willie Lanier. NFL athletes, including NFL alumni member Tyrone Smith, Pro Bowler Ken Harvey, and Hall of Fame member Charles Haley, are also reading their favorite children’s books or their own children’s books online. Tackle Reading will be hosting writing activities with athletes, giveaways, and contests including one with author and literacy advocate Chental Bembry.
Once a year in March, NFL players across the country go into elementary schools in urban areas where students are struggling to read on grade levels. NFL players read children’s books and chapters from the book Tackle Reading to the students and inspire them to challenge themselves to read more and build up their ability to read on their own. This March 2nd, the national literacy initiative reached over 100 elementary schools and 8,500 K-5 students.
The NFL is an impressive organization, but even more the players have gone beyond their roles as athletes and entertainers and used their public influence to build up the communities around them. They are becoming role models for children on and off the field, and for parents in showing them how to help children be successful throughout their educational careers.
Young kids look for role models and examples in television, books, and social media. Finding football players like those who participate in Tackle Reading and encouraging children to follow them on the field, on Instagram, or to read their story in Tackle Reading will give students a role model who will push them to engage with learning and reading as they transition into a whole new school year.
Follow @Kathryn Starke and #TackleReading on social media for daily updates. Visit the Tackle Reading page for more details including our suggested Tackle Reading football themed book list.