Author taps into boys’ interest in reading

Posted: December 5, 2012

The Winchester Star

Author Frank Bower (at left in the photo above and below) talks about one of his books, “Winners Take All,” at Daniel Morgan Middle School Tuesday night. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Author Frank Bowen speaks at Daniel Morgan Middle School Tuesday night. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Move over “Reading Rainbow,” there’s a new game in town to boost reading among children.

Hundreds of students, teachers, parents and staff members gathered at Daniel Morgan Middle School Tuesday night for a chance to meet Fred Bowen, author of the AllStar Sportstory series of novels for children and a Washington Post sports columnist for children.

Miranda S. Delmerico — a seventh-grade English inclusion teacher at the school — said Bowen was invited to speak about his new book “Winners Take All” in an effort to attract more boys to reading.

“A lot of times girls will read boys’ books, but boys will not read girls’ books,” she said. “With Fred’s books, they’re about sports and a lot of kids like sports.”

Bowen said his books combine sports fiction and sports history, with a history chapter at the end of every book.

During his address to students, he said he gets ideas from his experiences and those of people he encounters.

“Winners Take All” is about a young baseball player who cheats but eventually admits his misdeeds.

Bowen pointed out during a discussion that the main character was under a lot of pressure, and he asked students to identify its source.

“There is a tremendous amount of pressure to win,” he said, adding that his books — when read by children and their parents — invite discussion.

He said that in “Winners Take All,” he tries to show, through a story, “what’s right, what’s honest, what’s fair and what’s the right way.”

Delmerico said that in preparation for Bowen’s visit, all fifth- and sixth-grade students at Daniel Morgan received a free copy of his book and that they tried to do a “whole-school read.”

Seventh-grade math teacher Jan Rogers added that the school conducted a “cross curriculum” that used the book for other lessons, such as incorporating the statistics in math class.

“[Sports] are all about percentages and averages,” she said. “That’s helped us.”

The halls and auditorium of Daniel Morgan also were lined with crafts and projects that students completed in rela tion to either the book or Bowen’s Post column.

After he spoke, students were given popcorn and gathered in small groups for an interactive discussion about the book.

Delmerico led a raffle drawing, in which students won prizes ranging from a bookstore gift certificate to tickets to the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum.

Bowen also signed copies of his book.

Seventh-grader Andrew Stotlemyer said he is a big fan of Bowen and that he has read five of his books.

“I started getting into him because I like sports,” he said. “Football is my favorite.”

After beginning with the football books, Andrew said, he eventually moved on to the baseball books and said he liked how each one taught him a lesson, “like always tell the truth.”

Sixth-grader Catie Meehan said she thought “Winners Take All” was well-written and that she enjoyed Bowen’s visit.

“[I liked] how he related [the book] to other stories and how he came up with his ideas,” she said of the discussion period.

Seventh-grader Daniel Sterling said he thought “Winners Take All” was interesting and liked Bowen’s remarks about coaching.

“I like sports,” he said, adding that “Winners Take All” makes him want to read more books.

— Contact Melissa Boughton atmboughton@winchesterstar.com