Top tips for getting sporty kids into reading

Published on: 19 July 2022

Author of Ultimate Cricket Superstars, Matt Oldfield, shares his top tips for getting sporty kids into reading

Hello and welcome to the wonderful world of children’s sports books. Football, cricket, rugby, roller skating – you name it, we’ve hopefully got a book for your sporty kids to read and enjoy. And if we don’t, then we’ll get writing it right away!

As the great Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.’ Stats suggest that there are 3.5 billion football fans around the world, 2.5 billion cricket fans, 2 billion field hockey fans, and 1 billion tennis fans.

Clearly, there are a lot of very sporty people on this planet, and so we want to use that power and popularity to engage young readers who might not otherwise choose to pick up a book. But how? Well, ahead of the release of my latest book, Ultimate Cricket Superstars, I wanted to share my top tips for getting sporty kids into reading.

1) Start with the favourite sport

Sorry to state the obvious, but if your child really loves swimming, for example, then begin by looking for books about that. Just because they love one sport doesn’t mean they love all sports, and reading about skiing or squash instead just isn’t going to have the same impact; you really want to tap in to their number one passion. This BookTrust list is the perfect place to start your search, but if you still can’t find any books on their particular favourite sport, then maybe look for titles that cover lots of different ones, such as ‘Sports Legends’ by Rick Broadbent and ‘Run Like A Girl’ by Danielle Brown.

2) Work out what type of book they’ll enjoy most

With the most popular sports in particular, there should be lots of different options for your child to choose from. So the next step is thinking about what kind of book they would prefer to read: something instructional that shows them how to improve their skills, something inspirational that will teach them more about their heroes, or something imaginative that will transport them on adventures to other worlds? My advice would be to give them all a go and see which books they enjoy the most – that’s what libraries are for!

3) Find the format that suits them best

As well as different genres, there’s also a wide range of formats when it comes to children’s sports books. Some are large hardbacks with lots of vibrant images, while others are smaller with mostly text and just a few black-and-white illustrations. So, which style will suit your child best?

One of the many things I love about the ‘Roy of the Rovers’ football series is that they make books for different kinds of readers. Half of the titles are published as traditional fiction, and the other half are colourful comics. There are also lots of great sports magazines and audio books, which can be a great way into the world of reading.

4) Go beyond the book

When your child finishes a sports book they really enjoy, try to find ways to keep that buzz going. Ask them questions about it – what was their favourite part, character, story, and why? Is there a skill they’ve just read about that they could practise doing on their own, or you could practise together? Are there any extra videos or images that you could show them about the sporting hero or event they’ve just learned about? And most importantly, are there any other similar books that they could go on and read next?

Topics: Sport, Features

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