Monday, March 13, 2006

Running and sports

I have one student who is on the cross country team, and would prefer to read about nothing but running. This is a hard bill to fill, especially since Cythia Voigt's The Runner (1985) is not exactly a quick pick for reluctant readers. I did get him to read Carl Deuker's Runner (2005) even though it is more of a mystery than a sports book, but then it was by Deuker, and those never fail to disappoint! The student loved it, and I'm hoping he will pick up one of Deuker's other titles. Rich Wallace's Fast Company(2004) was a little on the easy side, but The Winning Season series by that author has been very popular.

One of the purposes of reading through the collection here is that I uncover oldies but goodies. So it was with Leon McClinton's Cross-Country Runner (1974) . It had sat unread on the shelf since 1980, but a year or so ago I gave it to one of the runners, and he liked it. It was a tremendously fast-paced tale of a high-school football player who gave up great success with that sport to take up running. I felt every blister and sore muscle, and the social issues in the book (bullying by cross country star who felt threatened) really added to the competition and interest. I liked it so much that I wrote an Accelerated Reader test for it so my student could get credit in class for reading the book.

I don't get many calls for books about gymnastics, but I had a good one-- Nancy Meltzoff's A Sense of Balance (1978). I was disappointed that the girl did not end up sticking to her dream of being an Olympic gymnast, but the descriptions of the competition and training were good, and the story more interesting than Frank Bonham's The Rascals from Haskell's Gym (1977).

What we really need is a book about football playing vampires. THAT would never be on the shelves!