I always feel like a little kid every time I walk into a book store. I’m nearly giddy with anticipation and wondering what book I’ll get that day. What gets me the most though is the smell. That awesome new book smell that permeates the store. Once I smell that I’m back to being ten years old.
When I was a young boy I was obsessed with a book series by K.A. Applegate called “Animorphs.” In this series a bunch of teenage kids defend the world against an alien invasion by morphing into any animal they touch. That is tailor-made plot for a young kid, plus they can morph into animals! In the regular series there were fifty-four books and a new one was released every month or two. I spent about five years reading and rereading all of these books as they came out. I was fully immersed in the Animorphs world and I loved every story.
Then a few years ago while working lacrosse camps at the Ron Clark Academy I noticed they were building a new library for their students and were accepting book donations. I gathered all of my Animorph books out of storage, organized them on my bedroom floor and spent a weekend rereading every book. It was my goodbye to a book series that created a hunger in me to read as much as I could whenever I could. Once I was done I packed all the books up and dropped them off at the Ron Clark Academy where I hope they will bring a passion for reading to more kids.
Since my Animorph days I spend a good bit of my money on books. I’ve mentioned my Ender’s Game and Dune obsession, but I’m not always on a science-fiction kick. Some weeks I’m reading biographies. Others I’m reading histories on war. Sometimes I read books that I would never typically read like Tina Fey’s Bossypants. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t read part of some book.
I’ve outlined my reading history because my interactions with young players the past few years has indicated to me that most kids don’t read much at all, and that makes me sad. I’ve met a few players that are bigger readers than me, but the vast majority view reading as a tedious chore. This doesn’t surprise me much. After all young kids these days can access pretty much any snippet of information at once just by using their phone. Actually sitting down and reading a three-hundred page book is a daunting task when most of what you read anyway is in small bite-sized pieces. The thing is I can’t blame technology for this reading dilemma. I use the same tech but I still find time to read a few chapters of a new book. My reading history allows me to see big picture ideas and see the theory that the book is working from. Many young players only see the trees at the expense of the forest while they read and while they play.
I never earned playing time by being the biggest, fastest or most skilled player. I earned my time by being one of the few players on the field that could see the entire game. My dad calls it field sense or lacrosse IQ, but whatever you call it I had it because I was such a voracious reader. I spent years reading and rereading stories with complicated plot lines and characters. Eventually I became skilled at figuring out where a book was going (although I could never predict the endings in any Agatha Christie book). This ability translated to the lacrosse field where I was able to know where the ball was going to be before it actually got there. It made me appear much faster than I was as I usually showed up at the right time, but I could predict the flow of the game because my mind got trained at conceptual thinking every time I read a book.
I can give pretty much any youth player one or two tasks and he will perform them well, but I rarely find a player who understands the importance of slowing down an offensive possession after playing three minutes of defense. You cannot understand a book or the game by reading the cliff notes. You have to study it intensely.
Featured Image Credit – www.arlkids.com
– If you have a favorite book or books let me know what they are in the comments section!