Kid-friendly gridiron glossary a good start
Your dad says his team is doing well this year. Mom's happy, too.
As long as they don't fumble, as long as they avoid being tackled, they might go to the playoffs, Dad says. But what does that mean? Is that in English? Read "My First Book of Football" by Beth Bugler and Mark Bechtel, illustrated by Bill Hinds, and you'll catch on.
Every Sunday -- and a few evenings of the week -- for four or five months, your family is glued to the TV. It's football season: time to wear your team gear and get ready to cheer because "football is an action-packed game."
To begin, the game is played on a field that is as long as eight school buses lined up in a row. Though football teams have many members, only 11 players from each team are allowed to play at any one time and each team member has a special job to do during the game. There's a coin toss to see who gets the ball first for kickoff.
The kicker kicks the ball. Someone from the other team catches it and RUNS! That guy, the one with the ball, is on the offensive team. The other team, the one that's trying to stop the runner, is the defense.
Part of the point of the game is to run to the other end of the field with the ball in your hands. The coach might have something to say about how it's done; he's the guy who tells the players how to play the game. The Quarterback, who is "the big cheese, the main man," might also have some ideas.
As the game progresses, your team will have a "down" or two (or four!). The quarterback will try to pass the ball over everybody's head. There might be a fumble, a flag, or a penalty, if you're unlucky. You might see a few interceptions. And at the end of the game, it could be time to celebrate. "Game over!"
So your child is eager to cheer on the family's favorite team. You're eager to teach her (or him!) how the game works. But "My First Book of Football" may not be the easiest way to do it.
To the good, authors Beth Bugler and Mark Bechtel include basic explanations to just about everything your child might hear during the game, explanations that are very kid-friendly. The illustrations by Bill Hinds are undeniably funny. The problem, therefore, isn't within the book itself, but in its correlation (or not) to a complicated, fast-moving game. Yes, this book will give your youngster a better understanding of terms, but it's going to lead to even more questions, I think. A mere read-through or two just won't be enough.
Kids ages 5 to 10 may like this book very much, but parents might find it lacking. Still, it's a good introduction to the game and if that's all you need, then having "My First Book of Football" may be a good goal.
• Terri Schlichenmeyer, aka The Bookworm, has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.