How do you get fourth- and fifth-graders to skip recess to talk about books? One way is to invite a former NFL player and current author to talk with the students about one of his children's book.
When given the chance to Skype with Tim Green, a former linebacker and defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons, 35 students jumped at the chance to talk with him about “Football Genius." The book club was the idea of Groveland Elementary teacher Tarah Cummings, who saw the club as a great activity for bringing together the immersion and English classrooms.
“It makes them connect so much more to the books and really gets the passion for reading,” Cummings said.
Girls usually make up the majority of the students attending the book club, but not this time. The session was well attended by boys, one of whom told Green “Your book was my favorite book ever.”
That sentiment has to make an author feel pretty good.
Students asked Green a variety of questions: “How many kids do you have?,” “Are you a fulltime author?,” “How hard was it in the NFL?” Answers received to these questions were “Five,” “No, I’m a lawyer fulltime,” and “It was brutal.”
One student wanted to know “What inspired you to write?”
“My love for reading,” Green explained. “I read everything, everywhere. Especially when I was a kid."
"I feel like meeting with an author is better than meeting with a famous singer, like Selena Gomez,” said a fifth-grader named Gwen.
Green also had some inspirational words about personal character.
“Work hard at school,” Green said. “And work hard at being a nice person, and not just the to the people you like, but to everyone.”
Green seemed to win over every student in the room.
“Usually an author would just speak about the book, but I like how he gave us advice on other stuff like how school is important,” said Ellie, a fourth-grader.
"I’ve never actually talked to a famous person before," said a fifth-grader named Courtney. "And I really enjoyed the book because I liked the end part, but you have to read the book to find out what it is.”
“I just loved that he had a really strong personality when he spoke," said Noah, a fourth-grader. "And I thought that he answered all of our questions really good.”
The book club runs through the end of March and covers the 12 nominees for this year’s Maud Hart Lovelace book award. Authors from six of the 12 books have agreed to Skype with students at Groveland. On Feb. 21, the students will speak with author Annie Barrows on her book "The Magic Half."