Thanks to the powers of Facebook and my mother, who shared the story in question on my wall, I discovered a pretty cool article about NFL quarterback Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck plays for the Indianapolis Colts. If you’re anything like me and most of your football knowledge is based on pop culture, you might remember that Andrew Luck also appeared in a memorable episode of Parks and Recreation, playing himself. It turns out that not only is Luck a great football player and a decent actor, he’s also a real bookworm. “The Andrew Luck Book Club,” from the Wall Street Journal on November 4th calls Luck the “NFL’s unofficial librarian.” Teammates say that Luck often recommends books, even lending out his own copies. And like any great librarian, Luck apparently knows how to match the right book with the right reader when they need it the most; when running back Vick Ballard tore his ACL in 2013, Luck encouraged Ballard to read Unbroken, a true story of the fortitude and resilience of Louis Zamperini. It was a successful recommendation on Luck’s part; Ballard eventually read it and loved it.
I was delighted by this story. I love that Andrew Luck is not how you imagine a typical reader; he’s a young guy (only 26) and a professional athlete in an especially aggressive sport. But, it turns out that he loves to read. Because readers truly come in every shape and size, from every walk of life. And loving books doesn’t mean that you can’t love other things, like heavy metal music or tattoos or football.
I think it’s especially exciting to see a male athlete who is surely idolized by many young boys and teens be unabashed about his love of books. People in the education, library, and publishing fields have been saying for years that it can be hard to convince boys to read. Not all boys, of course; every day, I witness those who come into the library eager to browse the shelves, or with a specific book or author in mind. I came across a 2011 New York Times article that tries to explain why it’s so hard to get boys interested in reading. The author lists a few compelling possibilities: boys tend to like nonfiction and schools often teach fiction (and fiction that’s geared more to girls), and many of the “edgy books” that might be popular with boys are often deemed too controversial to be taught or recommended. I can’t say how much of this is reflected in our own local schools, but maybe the important part is that we acknowledge that this reading gap exists and try to bridge any distance between boys and books.
If you have a reluctant reader at home, all you really need to do is find that one book that will spark something. The Children’s and Teens sections of our website provide several different reading lists. I would also suggest that you play around with NoveList, a database that you can access in the library or from home with your Levittown Public Library card. With the help of NoveList, you can search for books and read-alikes based on other book titles, authors, genres, and different types of descriptors, like subjects, locations, or writing styles. But, really, nothing compares to a good old-fashioned gab fest about books. Our librarians are experts in book recommendations. If you don’t have the time to come in, you can call us, email us, text us, or even chat with us online.
I hope you pass this story along to the boys, teens, and young men in your lives who complain that reading is boring, or stupid, or a waste of time.
And Thank You Andrew Luck for making reading look cool.