If your kids are not already a Tim Green fan, the author and NFL alumnus, they may have become one if she or he was lucky enough to see his presentation at Elizabeth Davis Middle School last Wednesday. Green spoke to Davis’ sixth grade classes and seventh grade English class students about his brand-new book, “Kid Owner.” He also discussed his involvement in the NFL’s Play60/Read20 initiative, which he kicked off with the NY Giants in September and followed up recently with the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. The initiative focuses on the combination of physical fitness and reading as the building blocks of academic success.
Most importantly, Green wanted to stress the importance of reading during his presentation. “Pick up a book,” he said to the assembly. “Books make you stronger and better in your mind and heart. More compassionate. It allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You get to be that person in a story and it changes you.”
His compelling stories of his experiences and how storylines came about for his books were arguments and reasons why reading allows the reader to become empathic and more understanding of their peers and society in general.
“It takes work,” he said. “But find someone different, someone different in color, someone sad, lonely, sick…say something kind, something you would say to your best friend, teacher – do or say something kind to someone you don’t know. By doing that, feel the power of that – kindness. If you don’t realize that, that is the most important thing you can do in life, you are clueless. Making other lives matter, if you can’t do that then nothing else matters.”
Seventh-grader Gavin Dennis had the opportunity to hear Green speak. Dennis said he reads two to three books a year and was inspired by Green to read more. “He said a lot of inspirational words and told a lot of stories,” he said. “I was inspired by the story about his wife who was a cancer survivor and by the quarterback who had a learning disability and went on to do great things.”
Dennis said he understands and believes how reading puts you in the point of view of the character and how you start to feel something for the character.
Following the assembly, Green met with the Tim Green Club in the library for a book signing. The club was formed by Davis’ librarian, Susan Worsham. The club prepared for Green’s visit by reading Green’s book “Unstoppable.” The club’s assignment was to read 70 pages a week.
Green’s social impact extends even further than his books for middle schoolers, as he donates his speaker’s fees to kids who would not otherwise be able to purchase new books. “I believe in reading,” he said. “It makes us a better person. I know it is true.”
“I am not here to change the world. I want to help students who will listen and help make themselves better. Statistics show that two-thirds of fourth-graders in the U.S. are not reading on the fourth-grade level and it rises to 83 percent for kids living in poverty. We are a global nation and we cannot afford that.”
Tim Green’s five tips to get your kids Reading 20
- YOU get them started. Find a chapter book and read a couple chapters with your son or daughter. Once they’re into the story, encourage them to find out what happens next by reading on their own.
- Reading before screen time. Unless you’re in a rare minority, your kids spend a significant amount of time on a screen. It’s the world we live in, but have them get their reading in BEFORE screen time.
- There are no bad books. If your kids want to read picture books, graphic novels, cheesy series books, or classics, let them. It’s the act of READING that gets their brain stronger.
- The more you read, the more you can read. Remember, reading is like ice skating, the more you do it, the better you get and the more things you can do.
- This is my big one! If they don’t enjoy a book, put it down. I tell the thousands of kids I speak to each year that if they don’t love a book after the first five chapters to put it down (unless it’s a school assignment). I hope you’ll do the same.