Reading has always been a big deal to my parents. When I came into this world my mother was learning the English language and during those early years of my childhood she would read to me, teach me how to say words she was learning to say in English herself, and built my imagination around the artwork of children’s books and encyclopedias. I gravitated to books early on in my adolescence because of that and developed a natural interest to want to read. Programs in elementary school like Book It helped, but a majority of the reading I was doing was for self, not just for school. Throughout the summer my mother & father made weekly visits to the library a part of our upbringing. I remember spending time wandering the shelves of Mickelson or Veterans Park Library, exploring the stacks and card catalogs, and discovering reads about some of my favorite sports like boxing and basketball, and other stories written by authors like Walter Dean Myers. This interest continued throughout my life becoming a common practice not only as a big brother, but also as a student, adult, educator, and public servant.
My brother Isaiah joined my brother Josh and started coaching a youth league this year. Our brother Josh has been coaching for several years now and we’ve recently started collaborating ideas for the team. One of those ideas is a reading initiative we came up with for Twitter called #every1reads. It’s a play off of an activity we started with our nephew called “Reading on the Stoop” and is a part of the #every1plays concept. Although the hashtag may have already existed elsewhere, it’s something we’re hoping we can attach to our basketball club.
Having played in organized sports since the early 80s, I can’t remember any of my coaches connecting the team’s activities to reading. Especially in high school, the extent of our academic involvement in sports mainly consisted of quick progress and report card check ups to determine if we were eligible. That’s it. Though we spent a lot of time together as a team (probably more than we did with any other teacher or school group) including idle time to travel from one school or town to the next, there was never a point where my coaches encouraged reading. In some of the worst cases, academic activity was discouraged over sports. It’s too bad considering the deep connection between literature and athletics and the thousands of stories that are documented about sports and sport figures. Not to mention how important academics is supposed to be for athletes looking to continue beyond graduation into college. But we know how that can go too.
Our goal with this initiative is to simply get the conversation started on the importance of reading through positive communication and encouragement. To hopefully inspire at least our Team USA group to talk to each other about what they’re reading and learning. And while some parents may feel its their job to hold their kids accountable to reading and schooling, I think it would be cool to get the parents involved in their own #every1reads initiative too.
Below you’ll see the first visual we created to promote #every1reads. It’s simple. In the future we hope to create more visuals with photography and artwork. At practice this week we had a second discussion about this concept and look forward to bringing some ideas around what kids are reading and maybe even start up some activities or contests. It was great to know how involved our kids are in reading, including their favorite spaces to read. We practice outdoors at a park that has a library close by. Though we’re starting with simply having a conversation about reading, hopefully this will grow into becoming a part of our weekly development to bring basketball activity together with reading.
To kick off the resources we plan on sharing about the benefits of reading, we encourage everyone to check out the TEDx talk below with Kelly Corrigan at TEDxSonomaCounty titled “More Reading”.