We have a classic reluctant reader in school at the moment – a boy – a boy who tells us that he doesn’t really need to improve his reading skills because he’s going to grow up to be a professional footballer, and if you’re a professional footballer then you really don’t need to bother with reading.
This is not unusual. I am not singling this child out for criticism. This happens a lot, and across boys and girls who really aren’t keen on learning to read. They can find all sorts of reasons why their case is different, and why they don’t have to do something they find tricky, or dull.
I admire their reasoning, but it does make it difficult if you still have the job of turning them into a competent reader.
Luckily, in terms of the football fanatic who isn’t keen on reading, there are plenty of books and/or resources which can help.
The National Literacy Trust have launched a programme in partnership with professional footballers, which show the children their footballing heroes actively engaged in reading and enjoying literacy. There is plenty of information about this on the National Literacy Trust website. There is an online challenge that you can set up with your children and lots of activities and advice. There is also a resource pack for teachers, librarians or even parents who want to use the idea across a range of pupils and perhaps put together a display in school.
Frank Lampard, the Chelsea footballer, has recently published a series of novels about a young boy who is mad about football, called Frankie’s Magic Football, which have received a huge amount of press coverage. Prior to that, Theo Walcott of Arsenal, also published books about footballing for young boys about a hero called T.J
Abbeville Press are bringing out a range of factual books about football and footballing heroes in March 2014. You can find out more about them, here.
Dan Freedman is a popular author in our school who writes about football. For older children there is a series about a football star who rises from the South American slums to fame on the pitch, written by Mal Peet.
Tom Palmer is a prolific author of children’s books about football. He also writes a blog called Love Sport Love Reading 2014, which you can access here.
These are a few ideas to get you started. There are also lots of online resources linked to getting children to write using footballing prompts and ideas, and I suspect that these will proliferate over the next year or two given that the world cup is looming on the horizon.