While my last name is Catcher, I’m far from a natural athlete. In fact, my high school softball career ended after I “caught” a stray throw with my forehead, landing me in the ER with a swollen eye and thirteen stitches. Still, I can appreciate a brilliant sports story, the type that moves beyond the game and captures the essence of teamwork, leadership, and friendship. The “Sports” section of my classroom library does just this.
Over the past year, I have cultivated the sports section to reflect the varied abilities, ages, and interests of my students. I teach freshmen, juniors, and seniors ranging from struggling to gifted readers. Because of my diverse students, my library must appeal to 14-year old freshmen and 18-year old seniors alike. Fortunately, sports can oftentimes bridge this age gap while also pushing students to gradually engage with more complex texts.
My younger students (and even some of my older) tend to gravitate towards popular young adult novels at the beginning of the year, like those written by Matt de la Pena and Mike Lupica. After they exhaust the options on my shelves, they inch towards lengthier and more complex analytical or historical books like Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game by financial journalist Michael Lewis or The Punch by sports writer and commentator John Feinstein. More than any other genre, these brilliantly crafted pieces serve as strong mentor texts for a wide variety of mediums including nonfiction, narrative, research, and persuasive writing. This year, books like Ice Time by Jay Atkinson inspired many of my hockey players to explore their sport through personal narratives while Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella served as the basis for one of my freshman student’s research papers on the Black Sox Scandal.
Sports hold leverage within our society, particularly amongst teenagers. From die-hard fans to benchwarmers, both athletes and non-athletes can appreciate a sports story, particularly when it transports us into a world packed with suspense and action.
Join the conversation by posting your own shelfies! Share a shelfie with #shelfieshare and let us know if it’s a #classroomshelfie, #bookstoreshelfie, or other miscellaneous find.
Tagged: book titles, books, Jackie Catcher, Twitter
I was looking at my collection and I realized that I have more ice hockey and baseball books than football books…clearly I need to up my football intake, although our hockey team is pretty big here as well. 🙂
One sports books that’s popular with my boys this year is Twelve Mighty Orphans by Jim Dent. Maybe because Dent writes about Texas football, which is EVERYTHING in our great state. Maybe because the underdog takes on Highland Park, the “rich” north of Dallas. I’m not sure, but once one football-playing student read it and talked about it with his coaches and team, other young men have wanted to read it.