Bringing in professional athletes to connect with kids (and adults) helps promote many types of literacy.
In an ongoing effort to promote movement in libraries and teach the importance of physical literacy, one way I've found to engage an audience is to bring in local or travelling professional athletes to talk about their trade and tie it into their love of reading and/or libraries. Don't believe the stereotypes — jocks read (on paper and online)!
A great place to start is local sports clubs. Most places, even small towns like mine, have a few famous athletes. Don't forget to think outside the box, it doesn’t have to be your typical football/basketball/hockey star (though those will work too!). How about a local marathoner coming to give a talk about training for the Boston Marathon? Or a professional figure skater or golfer? These athletes will often speak for free in order to share their love of the sport and other causes.
Here's a good example. We recently had Rob McLeod, a competitive disc sport athlete with 13 world records, present two talks at our library — one geared towards younger children and one towards a general audience. Rob grew up in our area but moved away a decade ago and was coming this way on a motivational speaking tour. Rob and his dog and speaking partner Davy were promoting their new anti-bullying book, "The Davy Rule," and talking about Rob's new project to get kids off their devices and playing outdoors. The kids got to meet Davy and Rob, watch some videos of their famous catches, hear a reading of the book, have a discussion about bullying and following your dreams, and try out some Frisbee tricks of their own.
A program like McLeod’s hits on so many literacy levels: digital (videos), textual (book), auditory (storytelling), physical (trying out tricks), emotional (talking about bullying and being yourself) and more! Introducing kids to inspirational athletes who value reading and libraries is another great way to encourage them to read and get their bodies moving. It’s a win-win!