Tim Visits Riverton Middle School

Green writes sports-themed young adult novels. During this talk, he emphasized the importance of how reading can help students academically, calling reading “weight-lifting for the brain.” “Educators across the country know kids who read perform better in every academic subject. Not just English and social studies, but also science and math. It also builds compassion and character,” Green said. Green has also written suspense novels for adults before writing children’s books. To watch a video of the event, click here.

–By Fox Illinois News Team


Tim Green now sacking illiteracy instead of quarterbacks

Young Tim Green always had a nose for the football and his nose in a book. So it wasn’t surprising to those who knew him back in the day that he eventually would realize his boyhood dreams of becoming a National Football League player and a best-selling author.

That he was destined for greatness was especially evident during his time at Syracuse University in the early 1980s, when he earned first-team All-America honors in football and was co-valedictorian of his class. While playing for the Atlanta Falcons, Green somehow found the time and energy to go to law school, where he graduated with honors, and is now a practicing attorney. Along the way, this Renaissance man also cultivated a successful broadcasting career that saw him work as a football analyst for FOX sports, co-host the news show, “A Current Affair,” and become a regular contributor to National Public Radio and ABC’s “Evening News.”

Now, 23 years after sacking his last quarterback, the former defensive end is tackling an even bigger challenge: convincing young people to read.

Author of more than 30 books, including 14 New York Times bestsellers, Green began writing sports-themed novels for elementary- to middle-school-aged children roughly a decade ago. That led to numerous requests from teachers and principals for him to speak at their schools. The fact he had played in the NFL for eight seasons gave him instant credibility among the students, and he used that credibility to drive home the importance of reading, education and kindness.

Through the years, Green has visited more than 1,000 schools nationwide. He will bring his “Reading is weightlifting for the brain” message, as well as a trunk full of books, to Gananda Middle School in Walworth on Tuesday morning.

“It’s like everything in my life was pushing me in this direction and I couldn’t be happier that it has,’’ said Green, who uses his speaking fees to donate books to kids and schools that can’t afford them. “This has become my passion, my mission in life. I haven’t discovered a cure for cancer or found a solution for peace in the Middle East, but in some small way, I’d like to think I’m helping make the world a better place.”

Famed abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass said “once you learn to read, you will forever be free.”

Those words resonate with Green. The 52-year-old can trace his lifelong love of the written word back to the Hardy Boys mystery series he began devouring as a third-grader.

“The first book that hooked me was about a lighthouse mystery,’’ Green said. “It was a pretty good-sized book for a middle-school novel, about 220 pages long, but I couldn’t put it down. It was filled with cliff-hangers. It was a real page-turner. And it whetted my appetite to want to read more of the books in the series. Eventually, I branched off to other authors and genres.’’

The ability of books to transport him to places he’d never imagined visiting and into the minds of characters he never knew existed was magical. The fact his words are now doing the same for others blows his mind.

“I can’t adequately express the joy and satisfaction I get from hearing kids say about my books what I felt about those Hardy Boys books,’’ he said.

Green’s initiative has received rave reviews at every school he’s visited. Following a recent presentation at Orion Junior High in Ogden, Utah, librarian Amy Hall called Green “a national treasure” and added that “each and every student in America should have the opportunity to hear his message and learn from him.’’

Green’s pithy phrase “reading is weightlifting for the brain” hits home with young people, creating a visual that the brain, like muscles, must be used, lest it atrophy. “I think it’s analogous because if you want to be a great football player, or great at any sport really, you need to lift weights, and if you want to be the best student you can be, you need to be a good reader,’’ he said. “Students who read not only perform better academically, but also become more compassionate people because reading is the exercise of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and becoming different characters in different places.”

Like the Hardy Boys stories of his youth, Green’s books are filled with suspense. His 17th and latest novel published by Harper Collins is titled “Home Run,” and deals with a boy who has a chance to help out his divorced mom and sister if he wins a home run derby that will enable them to move from their cramped apartment into a house.

One of the cool things about Green’s series is that he uses his Facebook page to solicit names of people to be characters in his book. Tyler Hutt, a member of the Victor football team who died of a pulmonary embolism in 2015, and Courtney Wagner, a former Canandaigua basketball player who died last year of brain cancer, are two names Green’s Facebook followers nominated and he decided to use.

“I love it because it’s a great way to honor those kids, as well as some adults, and for their families to see the outpouring of support from their communities,’’ he said. “It helps people like Tyler and Courtney live on through these stories.”

Green’s first book, “The Darker Side of the Game,” was a candid, behind-the-scenes look at his pro football experiences. The game exacted a heavy toll on him, resulting in a damaged elbow that has limited the use of one of his hands and has required several surgeries. Green also suffered at least 10 concussions, though he says he hasn’t suffered any cognitive damage.

“So far, so good,’’ he said. “I have the mental issues that any normal fiftysomething would have. I’m still writing two books a year, so that’s how I console myself.”

Of the many things he has achieved, none will have a greater impact on more people than his literacy initiative. By sharing the wonders of reading with young, impressionable minds, he hopes the written word will strengthen their brains the way weights strengthen muscles. Green hopes books transport them to places they’ve never been before, put them in the shoes of others, make them smarter and kinder, and help them dream big, the way he always has.

Best-selling author Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Business Journal sports columnist.

3/4/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.

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Tim Green releases ‘Home Run,’ 17th sports-themed novel for middle readers

SKANEATELES — Whenever Tim Green needs help developing his sports-themed novels for middle readers, he turns to a a pretty reliable focus group for assistance — his five children.

In fact, after recently releasing “Home Run,” the 17th book in his sports-themed, middle-reader series, the Skaneateles resident visited his youngest son’s class at State Street Intermediate School last week to read for the students the last chapter of one of the next books he is working on and plans to release next spring.

Green said it is “a fabulous opportunity” for him to gauge the reactions of his son and his classmates as he shares with them his latest story.

“If I have to make critical decisions about plots or characters and I don’t feel strongly about it or if I’m at a crossroads and I don’t know which way to go, I always ask my kids,” the former NFL player-turned-lawyer and author said in a phone interview. “My kids have had a huge imprint on my stories and the characters and what happens.”

Green spoke about “Home Run” after returning to Skaneateles from a tour that took him to schools across the country — most recently New Jersey — to talk to children about the importance of reading and literacy and share his books with them.

It is all part of his mission to get children — boys and girls alike — interested in reading by showing them that even an athlete such as himself loves picking up books.

Green said he gets a daily response on both his website and Facebook page from children all over the country, particularly from boys who may also be athletes and tell him that they never read a book until they picked up one of his and were drawn in by the sports theme.

In fact, at the school in New Jersey, Green said he spoke with a librarian whose 11-year-old daughter was a reluctant reader. The librarian would set a timer for 20 minutes to have her daughter read for that long and could never get her to read beyond that limit — until, that is, she found Green’s book “Unstoppable.”

“She just devoured it. She kept reading. She’s read every one of your books,” Green said the librarian told him. “I actually get a lot of girl readers as well. It’s not just limited to boys, though boys tend not to be the readers that girls are. I think part of it is they think maybe you’re kind of wimpy if you’re a reader. Maybe they associate it with that. My background kind of shatters that myth.”

But, part of that background is that Green “was a voracious reader” growing up, he said, and still loves books to this day.

He studied English literature as an undergraduate at Syracuse University and had the opportunity to take some creative writing classes and study with the likes of literary legends Tobias Wolff and Raymond Carver.

“I was around some incredible writers. Knowing them and being exposed to them kind of emboldened me to say, ‘They’re actually real people. Maybe I can do this too,’” Green said of how he got into writing. “Books were kind of magical for me. It’s something that I always dreamed of doing.”

He started out writing suspense novels for Warner Books until a creative director from Harper Collins read one of his books and suggested he take his style with short chapters and lots of action and apply it to children’s novels.

“If you could do this same kind of writing, make it for kids and about kids, and have that same kind of style, I think we’re going to get a lot of kids — especially boys who are not readers — to pick up a book and read,” Green said the director told him. “I think you have an opportunity that you could have your own brand that people recognize in that space.”

Having always read to his children as they grew up — books such as “Holes,” “Ella Enchanted” and “Maniac Magee” — Green said he loved those stories and already thought about writing one when the company approached.

His first middle-reader book, “Football Genius,” was an instant hit that made the bestseller list, and Harper Collins eventually asked him to write two books a year, one on baseball and one on football.

“I’m having such a good time with the kids stuff and the impact that I’ve had on kids that I didn’t even know,” he said. “I love doing this. … Right now, I’m really in love with writing for kids and the response that I get.”

In “Home Run,” Green said, he took three main characters — Josh, Benji and Jaden — who appeared in other books of the “Baseball Great” series and came up with a new odyssey to take them through in the story.

In the previous book, Josh’s parents separated, so Green said he looked for a way to play off of that plot in the latest book.

“I already had the characters and their personalities and their back stories,” he said. “A lot of it was just imagination — looking for conflict, looking for a plot that I could twist and turn to come up with a surprise ending.”

The football novel that is set to come out in the fall centers around a boy who is deaf but aspires to become a football player and fit into his new community, Green said, and the storyline is inspired by two boys he met — one in Iowa and one in Kentucky — during his recent tour.

“Both fans of my books, both football players as I was, and they were both deaf and had cochlear implants,” Green said. “The challenges and obstacles and experiences that they had really were the grist for that story. … Even though the conflict and everything is somewhat from my imagination, a lot of the anecdotes from the stories were taken from these kids’ real lives.”

He said the two boys face such difficulties as people who think they are mentally impaired because of their speech deficiencies, their own embarrassment over the look of the implants and their challenges in sports.

“I try to make every book different. I don’t want any of my plot lines to look the same,” Green said. “I think that helps when you’re a reader. You’re constantly immersing yourself in other stories and conflicts and characters and writing styles.”

Now, Green said, he gets “more requests than I can fulfill” from schools all over the country to speak about education and literacy, so whenever he releases a book, he begins a tour whose schedule is set a year or more in advance.

He said he uses all of the proceeds from his speaking fees to buy books for schools and libraries that otherwise could not afford them as a way of giving back and continuing his mission.

And he approaches that mission, he said, the same way he approached his football career.

“I work at my craft. I work at writing. I try to get better and better and better as a writer,” Green said. “You have to be diligent. You have to be indefatigable. You can make yourself better than you were the last one.”

Journal Editor Jonathan Monfiletto can be reached at jonathan.monfiletto@lee.net or (315) 283-1615. Follow him on Twitter @WOC_Monfiletto.


Football star wants to instill an early love of reading

Hearing the name “Tim Green” often calls to mind images of a football player, either as the young athletic star of the Syracuse University team, or in his follow up career with the Atlanta Falcons. Green’s athletic history is so well known that even when he began publishing books sports writers would be quick to cover them.

And while Green’s history in football and his passion for a wide range of sports informs much of his style, even telling kids that “reading is weightlifting for the brain”, his passions off the field are nothing short of inspiring. While becoming an All-American player at Syracuse University, he was also working hard on his English degree. While playing for the Falcons he was also studying to become a lawyer. Even before retiring from the Falcons, Green became a lawyer and a published author, a feat of endurance even for those not training for professional sports.

Living in the Upstate New York area with his wife and five children, Green has made childhood literacy his primary passion, having now written seventeen sports-themed books for children, including his newest March publication “Home Run”. Green travels the country to promote his books, having already visited 800 schools to share his stories and to encourage students to feel that academic achievements can help create better athletes. Green has a full tour lined up for his newest book, visiting locations like Chicago, Boston, Charlotte, and many more.

Any school that is looking to have Green come speak can learn more about how to do so by visiting Green’s website. Green also uses the proceeds from his speaking engagements in order to purchase books for students who may not otherwise be able to afford them.

“Home Run” follows a young man named Josh who is forced to adapt to changes in his personal life and the repercussions those changes have on his athletic life. Faced with a new baseball coach in place of his father, and a difficult goal of meeting a home run challenge that could give him a prize that would improve his family’s life, Josh turns to his friends to rise to the challenge.
“Home Run” is the fourth book in the “Baseball Great” series and a timely read for middle grade students as we enter into baseball season.

“Home Run” and all of Green’s books, including those that he has written for adults are available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Also be sure to check your local independent bookstores and school libraries. Learn more about all of Green’s titles and his outreach programs by visiting his website.

 

Syracuse.com


Former NFL player speaks in support of reading

NORTH HAMPTON — Tim Green was paid for eight years to chase down quarterbacks as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Now Green, retired from the NFL for 23 years, makes his living writing novels and traveling across the country motivating kids to read, and instilling the importance of an education.  For more, follow the link  http://seacoastonline.com/article/20160305/SPORTS/160309400