Wednesday, May 23, 2018
tackle reading

NFL Players Tackle Reading

When I heard about Tackle Reading, I had to give them a shout out.  As a writer and a lover of books, I am so happy to spread the word when anyone is doing something to help children love books and reading.

There are 45 athletes, including NFL athletes — including from the Washington Redskins — who have contributed to Tackle Reading.  The book helps to promote promote a love of literacy with a passion for football. That’s an awesome combination.

Thanks to the charitable giving of organizations including the Carolina Panthers’ Charles Johnson’s foundation, thousands of copies of Tackle Reading have been donated to inner city elementary schools nationwide.

The first annual Tackle Reading day with the NFL happened recently and over 20 teams and legendary athletes participated, including former Boston Celtics’ star Antoine Walker, as well as other professional sports and entertainment celebrities.

The first annual Tackle Reading event was a huge success. On March 2, 2017, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Read Across America, there were NFL teams represented to tackle reading across America. Coast to coast current, retired, and legendary NFL athletes visited Title I/inner city elementary schools in their community to read to children and celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Every team that participated received a copy of Where is Pidge by Michelle Staubach Grimes, Beyond the Laces by Bob Salomon, Amy’s Travels by Kathryn Starke, and Tackle Reading, the book that kicked off the national movement.

Over 45 contributing writers including NFL athletes, authors, literacy leaders, celebrities, and educational organizations donated their time and talent to promote urban literacy education.

​Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation
​Quinton Spain, Tennessee Titans
​Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
​Dion Foxx (former Washington Redskins)
​Fernando Velasco (former Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills)

Follow #TackleReading on social media to see all of teams, athletes, authors, teachers, and schools that participated.

The person who introduced me to Tackle Reading is Kathryn Starke, who is an urban elementary school literacy coach, reading consultant, and author and a literacy advocate/children’s author for the Washington Redskins Reading program. She wrote the children’s book, Amy’s Travels, is used on over 20 countries on 6 continents. She serves on the board for Reach Out and Read Virginia and the Chris Baker 92 Foundation.

What’s the Washington Redskins Reading program and who even knew they had one? According to the Washington Redskins website, “The Redskins Charitable Foundation created the Redskins Read Program, which focuses on a playbook for students to study the Xs and Os of reading. The Redskins Read Playbook provides monthly prompts for students to analyze a book(s) of their choice, focusing on different areas of the story (e.g. characters, setting, plot). This supplemental learning tool is an incentive for 4th and 5th grade students by providing monthly prizes and the chance to host a Redskins event with current players at their school in the spring. The program runs from September – March.”

Very cool.

NFL Players Fight Literacy

The Chris Baker 92 Foundation also gets props. According to their website, “The Chris Baker 92 Foundation engages youth in Washington, DC and greater Hartford, CT in literacy programs, football camps and mentorship programs to assist in developing life skills and values empowering them to successfully recognize and reach their full potential.”

All of this support from athletes who want to reduce the rates of illiteracy is awesome. Here are some stats about illiteracy:

2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

Hey athletes, keep up the good work!

For more information on Tackle Reading, click here.

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

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