BRONX, NY — On Saturday, May 5th 2018, families and community members came together on the soccer field at Macombs Dam Park to take part of South Bronx United’s 8th Annual Literacy Day. The day is rooted on the three pillars of SBU: academics, leadership and athletics. The day began with coaches for each age group reading featured soccer themed books to their players. SBU Academy youth leaders also helped facilitate reading groups and led discussions after. Reading circles promoted the joy of reading and used soccer stories to illuminate similar themes that are relevant in their own lives. Then, the over 600 youth from SBU’s Recreational Program had the opportunity to take home free books.
This year, featured books included Messi by Steve Herman (Ages6+), Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin (Ages 8+), Soccer Sisters: Caught Offside by Andrea Montalbano (Ages 11+),
For Soccer-Crazy Girls Only by Erin Downing (Ages 11+), World Soccer Legends by Illugi Jökulsson (Ages 13+), Soccer IQ by Dan Blank (Ages 16+), and Everything Your Coach Never Told you Because You’re a Girl by Dan Blank (Ages 16+). The players enjoyed learning about famous soccer stars like Messi and engaged in thoughtful discussions with coaches and youth leaders after reading.
Girls in the U11 Division once again had a special guest appearance by author Andrea Montalbano, who took part in reading circles that featured her book Soccer Sisters: Caught Offside, book #2 in the Soccer Sisters series. Last year, Ms. Montalbano also attended Literacy Day and read an excerpt from the first book: Soccer Sisters: Out of Bounds. Her books touch on topics any young athlete could relate to from team friendships to improving your skills on the field to making difficult life decisions. After reading, the U11 girls each received their own copy, generously donated by Sourcebooks. Ms. Montalbano also shared a brief history about herself and how soccer impacted her life, answered questions and watched their practice. Her books serve as a way to unite girls in sports, but they are also a movement to encourage girls and women to support each other on and off the field. Using social media, Ms. Montalbano started the #Playitforwardproject, a campaign that allows you to capture any random acts of kindness and then challenge friends and family to follow suit with their own kind act by posting a good deed online. To read more about the author, her books and this campaign, visit her website here, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
With over 2,000 books donated by organizations, SBU’s volunteer coaches, parents, and other individuals, students had great options to choose from to continue reading at home and to start to build their own library. Parents were delighted to see their kids so interested in reading because early literacy is linked to academic success and increased opportunities in adulthood.
SBU hopes to inspire kids and parents to make reading a daily part of their lives. Along with their books, students also took home bookmarks and parents took home an informative sheet, noting several local organizations devoted to improving literacy rates in the South Bronx.
South Bronx United thanks all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible. Book donors included: The Lisa Libraries, Kids Can Press, The Child’s World, Better World Books, Penguin Random House, Coughlan Company -Capstone, Hachette Group USA, Reach Out and Read, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Sourcebooks, Quirk Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scarsdale Public Library and many individuals.
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