BRONX, NY — On Saturday, May 20th, South Bronx United held its 7th Annual Literacy Day. Families, students, coaches and volunteers of all ages came together on three soccer fields in the South Bronx for a day focused on reading and literacy. Over 600 youth from SBU’s Recreational Program had the opportunity to participate in reading groups and take home free books.

Kids participating in a reading circle with their coach.
Kids reading Young Pele in a reading circle with their coach.

The day began with coaches for each age group reading featured soccer themed books to their players. SBU Academy youth leaders also helped facilitate reading groups. Reading circles promoted the joy of reading and used soccer stories to illuminate similar themes that are relevant in their own lives.

Reading circle discussion.
Youth leader, Jeany Martinez, leading a group discussion at South Bronx High School.
Youth leader, Chelsea Quito, leading a reading circle at South Bronx High School.

This year, featured books included Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Alex Morgan’s Breakaway: Beyond the Goal, Winner’s Never Quit by Mia Hamm, DK Biography: Pele by James Buckley and Soccer Sisters by Andrea Montalbano. The players enjoyed learning about famous soccer stars like Pele and Alex Morgan and engaged in thoughtful discussions with coaches and youth leaders after reading.

Author, player and coach, Andrea Montalbano with the Girls U11 team at Literacy Day 2017.
Author, player and coach, Andrea Montalbano with the Girls U11 team at Literacy Day 2017.

Girls in the U11 Division had a special guest appearance by Andrea Montalbano, author of Soccer Sisters: Out of Bounds. The book follows the main character, Makena Walsh and her talented soccer team, the Brookville Breakers. After a new player joins the team, Makena goes through a journey of changes trying to impress the new girl and learns a lot about herself in the process. The book has something any young athlete could relate to from team friendships to making difficult life decisions. After reading one chapter of the book, the U11 girls each received their own copy, donated by Sourcebooks and signed by Ms. Montalbano. Ms. Montalbano also shared a brief history about herself and how soccer impacted her life, answered questions and joined their practice. Her #Playitforwardproject Campaign encourages children to do good both on and off the field.

#sbuLitDay2017 at Macombs Dam Field
#sbuLitDay2017 at Macombs Dam Field

With over 2,000 books donated prior to the event and a couple hundred more donated on the day of by volunteer coaches and parents, a grand total of 2,200 books were available to choose from to continue reading at home. Parents were thrilled for the opportunity to encourage their kids to read. As he was sorting through the books, one father, Mr. Horta said, “This is a wonderful thing you guys are doing here. I look forward to it every year because I know my kids actually want read the books they take home.”

SBU hopes to inspire kids and parents to make reading a daily part of their lives. Along with their books, students also took home bookmarks and parents took home an informative sheet, noting several local organizations devoted to improving literacy rates in the South Bronx.




Kids looking through piles of books for their favorites!

South Bronx United thanks all the donors and volunteers who helped make the event possible. Book donors included: The Lisa Libraries, Kids Can Press, Abbeville Press, Inc., The Child’s World, Better World Books, Penguin Random House, Coughlan Company -Capstone, Reach Out and Read, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Sourcebooks, Quirk Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scarsdale Public Library and many individuals.

Contact info@southbronxunited.org for information on how you can support future events.