Ever since he was a toddler, Dylan has loved soccer. He plays soccer, watches soccer, and reads about it. I've stocked his shelves with fiction and non-fiction about the sport, and he's devoured most of the books I've given him. If your kids are passionate about something, you now have a sure-fire way to get them to read!
One of his all-time favourite chapter books is Football Academy by Tom Palmer. Perfect for readers aged 7-10, this six-part series centres around a group of boys selected to Manchester United's under-twelve team. It's a premise that will appeal to many young soccer players and athletes. This is also a good series for reluctant readers.
Football Academy is filled with plenty of on-field action such as training and games, but the books aren't just about what happens on the pitch. We also see how the boys navigate the day-to-day challenges of school, family, and friends; all while following their dreams. Wholesome and engaging, these books explore timeless themes that kids can relate to.
We meet Yunis, who wishes his father was more supportive of his soccer endeavours (Striking Out). There's Ben, who is hiding the fact that he can't read or write (Reading the Game). Tomasz is bullied by Ryan, the team captain (The Real Thing), and Craig is dealing with the fact that his father is in prison (Captain Fantastic). Jake is worried he's not good enough to be on the team (Boys United), while James only plays football because it's his dad's dream (Free Kick). Each book focuses on a different character, and supporting characters in one book become fully fleshed out in another.
When Dylan was younger, he read Football Academy many times. In fact, he enjoyed the books so much, he wanted to share them with the rest of the family. During a summer road trip when he was nine, he read Boys United out loud to us as the miles whipped by outside the car.
After we returned home, he and I continued reading the books at bedtime. He was at an age where we hadn't read together for awhile, so I was grateful to curl up with him amongst the pillows to immerse ourselves together in a book. For that, I thank Tom Palmer!
Books in series: 6
Football Academy: Boys United
Football Academy: Striking Out
Football Academy: The Real Thing
Football Academy: Reading the Game
Football Academy: Free Kick
Football Academy: Captain Fantastic
Two kids, two cats, and a house full of books. We share our favourite picks for young readers.