BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Tales From the Pitch is a new series that is designed to use the power of football to get even the most reluctant of readers picking up a book.
Written by a 23-year-old football fanatic, Tales From The Pitch is a series of easy-to-read fictionalised biographies of major football stars, which offer something very important to most children – facts about football players and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their world.
What's more, the books have been specially designed for reluctant readers by Ransom Publishing, who are best known for their programme of books for reluctant and struggling readers in schools, homes, libraries and prisons. You can order Tales From the Pitch from Amazon or Bookshop.
Author Harry Coninx stopped by on our blog to explain how the design of these books help to hook in reluctant readers...
5 ways Tales from the Pitch books are designed to hook reluctant readers
by Harry Coninx, author of the Tales From the Pitch series
When I was younger, there were a lot of things that took priority over reading a book. FIFA. Football Manager. Actually kicking a ball around outside. I have no doubt, however, that a Tales from the Pitch book would have stopped the younger me in my tracks - and I think the same could be said of any reluctant-to-read football fan. After all, the books look cool, have pictures of top footballers on the covers, and aren’t too thick. But when those young fans have flicked to page one and are swimming around in the vicinity of my ‘hook’, what are the five ways I get them to bite? How do Tales from the Pitch books get them reading to the very end?
1. Football content
It’s obvious, but we can easily forget this. As kids get older, they develop personalities. They acquire interests, which often become obsessions - and these obsessions are the key to unlocking a motivation to read.
For hundreds of thousands of children, my younger self included, that obsession is football players. So, I’ve made sure each Tales from the Pitch book is full of facts about each player - the kinds of facts they’ll want to show off with (“Dad, did you know Mbappé had a trial with Chelsea?”).
I also wrote the books so that fans could relive the big matches in each player’s career, glimpse the behind-the-scenes moments they’ve always wondered about, and learn a few tips for their own game. In short, reading requires effort and Tales from the Pitch books offer something that makes that effort worthwhile: a whole lot of football.
2. Their world
Yes, these books are about football - but they also use the language of football.
It’s a language my wonderful editor, Steve, a non-football fan, was not familiar with:
“I don’t get why this team went through. Was it not a draw?”
“Yes, but they go through on away goals - trust me, the readers will know all about this stuff.”
“Did you mean to say that Tottenham ‘were seeing’ more possession? I’m confused.”
“Yes, it means ‘Tottenham had more possession’ - don’t worry, the readers will have heard that phrase a thousand times.”
Imagine you’re a young fan who is familiar with this world and its language. You can read and understand these books, when someone as smart as Steve (or perhaps your teacher or parents) cannot. How empowering is that? The answer is that being in your comfort zone and feeling like an ‘expert’ is so empowering that it can offset low self-esteem - something that fuels many reluctant readers’ hostility towards books in the first place.
3. Not literary
The language in the books is also very colloquial. It’s close to the way we would speak, tending to follow oral, rather than literary, forms. So, when reading these books, children are meeting familiar language that behaves in the way they’d expect it to behave - and that’s great for building their confidence.
Using colloquial language also means that they can bring their knowledge of spoken language to the task of reading, making it easier. And who wouldn’t prefer to do something easy over doing something difficult that then leaves them feeling silly for finding it so difficult? I certainly wouldn’t, and I don’t expect my readers to either.
4. No sunsets
So the language I use is from the world of football and colloquial, but what do I use it for? Or, more importantly, what do I not use it for? Answer: I don’t use it on long, literary descriptions of things like sunsets. This might be beautiful prose for a mainstream reader, but for reluctant readers who - as we’ve established - are here for the football, such descriptions involve wading through a lot of text for little reward. They may well not bother. Instead, I write in a tight, fast-moving way that doesn’t spend any time on the unrewarding ‘boring bits’. (Think Serge Gnabry getting his debut for Arsenal… To storming into Arsène Wenger’s office and asking why he’s been left on the bench in the months since… To being on the training pitch, trying to earn a start, and hearing something snap in his knee… Bang, bang, bang!).
5. Short paragraphs
Finally, if you flick through a Tales from the Pitch book, you will not find any large blocks of tiny text. That’s because I use really short paragraphs. Combined with the slightly larger font/ margin size used in the books, this means that there are fewer words on the page than there are in a standard book. In other words, you can really race through them.
Again, this is about self-esteem. Reading Harry Potter for 10 minutes might get a reluctant reader to page 3 (a little demoralising = “I’m not reading that anymore”), but 10 minutes with a Tales From The Pitch book, well, you’re into Chapter 3, on page 11! Cue a sense of achievement, a boost in confidence, and a reader who keeps on reading to the very end - and beyond.
Thanks to the team at Ransom Publishing, we have a full set of Tales From the Pitch books to give away to our followers.
There are two ways to enter:
1. Twitter entry - To enter, follow @booksfortopics and RT the giveaway tweet.
2. Instagram entry - Follow @booksfortopics on Instagram & TAG in the giveaway post's comments a friend who may also like to win this book for their home or school library.
You can enter both ways for two entries! Giveaway closes 11.59pm 17th Feb (UK) -- terms and conditions here.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending us review copies and to Harry for the guest post.
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