The California School Library Association (CSLA) is proud to present a tutorial on how to develop and offer an Athletes as Readers and Leaders program. Thanks to Napa Valley Unified School District Librarian Kate MacMillan and Napa High School Football Coach Troy Mott for creating and sharing their program. Kate reminds us that each school is different, and that one size doesn't fit all! That said, read on and develop a program especially for the student athletes in your school.

A Stanford University study reported that children who play sports are less likely to become obese. The report also found that overweight children are often too shy to join a sport. With this in mind, Napa Valley USD implemented Athletes as Readers and Leaders to introduce elementary students to high school athletes. They knew it would be a success with the students, but were surprised that it had such an impact on the players. Football coach Troy Mott said, "I don’t know who gained more from this experience, the players or the kids."
  1. Implementation: Talk to a coach or the athletic director about implementing this program. We recommend talking to an on-site and/or teacher coach as they have more access to the players. Form a board including the librarian, coach, and an elementary principal. Show the two minute embedded vided (Animoto) to highlight the program.
  2. Start up: After each high school athletic season ends, participating coaches and players visit their feeder elementary schools to read a sports related picture books. The books usually relate to the players’ sport and often have a theme celebrating diversity. If you need picture books ask the elementary school or borrow from your local bookstore. Give players the opportunity to pick out the book and to practice reading it.
  3. The Visit: After the coach introduces the players and the players read the book, start a discussion devoted to reading, wellness, nutrition, academics, leadership, and training.

if you start the program at your school. This program is good for students, meets curriculum standards, and is an excellent example of participation and collaboration in sharing knowledge. Start planning NOW. Implement this school year!
Kate MacMillan at Napa Valley Unified School District or Janet Melikian at Central High School, Central Unified School District in Fresno would be glad to answer your questions.  Lorrita Ford at the College of San Mateo Library has a college athletes program with the campus Child Development Center.