Football Makes Reading Fun

By Guest Blogger,
Eric Boekesteijn

Score a book! is a reading project for primary school pupils aged 8-10. Encouraged by players from Dutch professional teams, the children read as many books as they can during a period. A formula that catches on.

‘Jolanda, come see this!’ It is Saturday morning and when entering the Library Veendam I am called over by Henk, or as I know him better: Mr. Henk. Henk works at a primary school nearby. He buzzes with energy and is even livelier than a class of thirty children. Today, as ever, he is beaming from ear to ear. I walk over to him and look in the direction he is pointing. At the reception desk I see my colleague Henny. Next to her is a boy with his father. ‘This is Kevin’, Henk tells me enthusiastically, ‘a pupil of mine. Poor reader. He joined the library today. Thanks to Score a Book! How cool is that?’

This week, we kicked-off Score a Book! again. Mr. Henk’s class has been participating since the beginning in 2012. A few days earlier, Henk had already sent me some pictures through WhatsApp. These pictures showed his pupils ‘scoring’ books. The children were lying down all over the classroom floor. Yes, lying down because with Mr. Henk you are allowed to read in the strangest places.

An hour later I am talking to my colleague Henny, trying to tell her about Mr. Henk and the boy from his class. I am interrupted immediately. ‘Kevin! Yes, he joined the library and picked out some books right away.’ Henny’s eyes light up. ‘I asked him what he liked. ‘Football’ was his answer, but he was not so keen on reading. Do you know what I told him? ‘Ask me if I like reading?’’ Kevin has asked Henny. ‘‘No’, she had said, ‘I don’t like reading the way most people do’’. Kevin and his father were surprised. How can you work in a library then? Anyone who knows Henny, knows about her love for particular books. Like no one else, she knows how to find those children’s books that are just slightly different and therefore very popular with children. “I then selected a few books with Kevin’, Henny continues, ‘Afterwards, I asked his father what he liked.’ ‘I don’t like reading’, Kevin’s father responded. ‘That’s not what I asked’, Henny said ‘I asked you what you liked’. After some hesitation he answered that he liked to cook. ‘Then I also gave them an Italian children’s cookbook. Now they can cook together!’

Thanks to the extraordinary effort made by people like Mr. Henk and my wonderful colleague Henny, as a library, we are able to make children experience the delight of reading. Because, as Mr. Henk wrote to the parents of his pupils: ‘He who reads, conquers the world!’
Score a Book! 2018

You can score anywhere! With this in mind, the Library in association with the Dutch Premier League is carrying out a unique reading project for pupils aged 8-10: Score a Book! In six regions across the Netherlands, from February until April, 11,000 pupils will be reading (‘scoring’) as many books as they can for nine weeks. The children are encouraged through video messages by players from famous soccer clubs such as AZ, FC Groningen, Go Ahead Eagles, Heracles Almelo, NEC, and Willem II. Score a Book! will be expanded to more regions in the Netherlands over the coming years.

Score a Book! doesn’t just happen in the classroom. In 2018, the libraries will also be inviting families to ‘score’ books, newspapers, and magazines at home as well. The whole family can join in. For this, the libraries are organizing many fun (football) activities.

More information: Jolanda Robben, coordinator Score a Book! at Biblionet Groningen.