OK, this is a story that I couldn't resist, because it lies at the intersection of two of my strongest interests: children loving books, and the Boston Red Sox. Publisher's Weekly Children's Bookshelf published a story today called Books in the Ballpark. Here's the opening line: "Yesterday Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler spoke to children from four Boston area schools at Fenway Park about their love of books." Now, you can be a Kennedy fan or not, it's of no great importance to me. But I LOVE the idea of Gabe Kapler talking to kids about books and reading.
What you have to understand (this may not be obvious if you aren't from New England) is that the Red Sox are superheroes to local kids. Especially the Red Sox who, like Gabe Kapler, played on the 2004 World Series Championship team, and then came back to the team (he left for Japan for a little while, but he's back). Kapler has been out all season with an achilles tendon problem, but should hopefully (per a recent MLB.com story) be back playing at Fenway Park in about a month. His temporary absence from the field in no way diminishes his celebrity in Boston. Little kids walking down the street absolutely know who he is, and look up to him, and want to be more like him. To have Gabe Kapler out there talking to kids about the importance of reading is a truly wonderful thing. It makes me want to jump up and down a little bit.
And it gets better! I learned from the Children's Bookshelf article that Gabe recently launched Gabe's Reading Group at New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton Highlands. Gabe's Reading Group includes a monthly essay contest for kids up to 15 years old "designed to encourage, promote and foster the important values of reading and literacy", with prizes. Prizes will include items autographed by Gabe Kapler, and the First Prize winner at the end of the season will get to have lunch with Gabe. How cool is that? So, if you know any kids 15 and under who are Red Sox fans, be sure to tell them about Gabe's Reading Group. How could they possibly resist?
Thanks for doing this, Gabe! Now I'm really a fan. I think that you could make a lasting and positive difference for kids through this program. And I join the rest of Red Sox nation in wishing you a speedy return to the field.