Sport and Reading for Pleasure

I used to love sport. When I was a kid, I went on football holiday camps with my brother and was proud to be the only girl there. I remember going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United with my Dad a few times, but my main memory of my sports-loving life was when I won football poetry competition. My prize was two things – a) a year’s supply of wagon wheels and b)free tickets to Stockport County Football club and a chance to try my luck taking penalties against the goalkeeper before the match. I also got through to the national heat, which involved a trip to a big football event at the NEC in Birmingham where I attempted to win world cup tickets by commentating on a celebrity football match. Alas, I did not win the tickets, and through my teenage years I also went off sport. It didn’t fit in with all the other things I was trying to do and be.

However, that experience has stayed with me. It connected sport to my school work and made me think about the possibilities of both. It was also good for Stockport County – those school and community connections inspired people to go to matches and get involved (NB -Things are no longer as rosy for County, but that’s another story…)

I absolutely love Tom Palmer’s toolkits for teachers and librarians which connect two of this year’s major sporting events – Euro 2012 and the Olympics – to reading. He also does the Premier League Reading Stars with the National Literacy Trust – another great way to connect football to literacy. Palmer’s books are very popular with the boys in our school library, and it was interesting to read the following quote from his website:

 “I wasn’t a keen reader, but thankfully my mum used my love of football to get me into reading. I’m now the author of fourteen children’s football novels for Puffin Books.”

I think lots of children see reading as something separate to their other hobbies, something boring that they’re forced to do at school, something isolated, attached to values they quite simply don’t relate to, rather than something that can be exciting or engaging or easily connect up with their out-of-school interests. Although I’ve only been a school librarian for one year, it is clear to me that one of the major challenges of school librarians is to break down this assumption.

2012 is a huge year for sport in this country and it is good to see lots of educational activities taking place around this. The Olympics also has an educational website – Get Set – that has loads of resources for teaching and learning.

These sporting events have not only made me think about how sport and literature/literacy can connect up, but also how reading can connect to all areas of the curriculum. And how reading isn’t just about English lessons and literacy (although they are important) – it’s not even just about school – it connects with all areas of life, and can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience in and of itself.

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