Season opens for MTA Red Sox Reading Game

Wally with students at Fenway

Catcher David Ross is new to the Red Sox this year — but he is also joining another important team.

Ross is serving as the spokesperson for the MTA Red Sox Reading Game and the Most Valuable Educator program, which work in tandem to promote summer reading and recognize individuals who promote student achievement.

The reading game and the MVE program are two of the MTA’s key partnerships, and both are sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation.

Reading Matters
Click here to download entry forms and other materials.

Students in kindergarten through eighth grade are eligible to participate in the game, which encourages reading during the summer, when literacy skills often take a slide. They can enter by pledging to read nine books — one for each position on the baseball field — and sending in an entry form that is signed by a parent or guardian.

The MTA draws 100 of the entry forms from among the thousands submitted and invites the students and their teachers to a game at Fenway Park in September. Each giveaway winner receives two tickets. Five grand prize winners get to go onto the field for a special ceremony.

The MVE winners are selected by the Red Sox based on nominations from the public, each of which must include an essay explaining the reason recognition is deserved. They are lauded at Red Sox home games.

David Ross

David Ross

Ross will join the team’s mascot, Wally the Green Monster, and thousands of educators around the state in promoting the MTA’s efforts.

The early development of reading habits provides the foundation for lifelong success, and reading during summer months leads to better academic performance when children return to school in the fall, according to educational researchers.

The reading contest is a hit in schools around the state.

“When the students come back in September, I make a big deal about the MTA winners, letting all the kids know that winning Red Sox tickets is really possible,” said Sharon Lavallee, a librarian at the Freeman-Kennedy School in Norfolk. “We discuss what their favorite summer reading book was, and they have plenty to talk about.

“By providing innovative, enjoyable summer reading programs that involve the entire family, we can provide young people and their parents with the tools necessary to ensure year-long learning and cultivate a lifelong love of reading,” Lavallee added.

Julie Nally, a reading specialist at Thomson Elementary School in North Andover, agreed. “Any time we can motivate children to read, write and discuss their thinking more, it’s extremely beneficial for their growth and development as engaged readers, writers and learners,” Nally said. “The summer is a wonderful time to encourage reading for pleasure — and when students enjoy reading, they always choose to read more!”

Nally has a special insight into the game’s influence — because her son, Colin, won tickets to Fenway last season.

To publicize the programs, 15,000 posters and 500,000 entry forms and bookmarks are being distributed in schools around the state. This year’s materials feature Ross and Wally reading the award-winning children’s book “Mudball.”

The book, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares, tells the tale of a diminutive baseball player who hits the shortest home run in history. Tavares called the contest “an awesome program that promotes literacy at every school in Massachusetts.”

Dr. Elizabeth Englander

Dr. Elizabeth Englander

Where the MVE program is concerned, anyone can nominate an outstanding teacher, education support professional,  school staff member, coach or volunteer by writing about his or her contribution to student achievement.

Jennifer Luisa, assistant vice president of community relations at The Hanover Insurance Group, said the company’s foundation is thrilled to sponsor the two programs for another year.

“It is our mission to help youth to reach their full potential. Quality educators are a critical component to making our vision a reality,” Luisa said. “We are excited to be a part of these programs to encourage summer reading and help honor people who work in our schools, making a difference in the lives of children.”

For further information on the MTA Red Sox Reading Game, visit www.readingmatters.org. Visitors to the site can download entry forms and other materials. To nominate someone to be an MTA Red Sox Most Valuable Educator, send an essay of up to 400 words to Most Valuable Educator, c/o Red Sox Community Relations, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston MA 02215. MVE nominations must be postmarked by July 1. To find out more about visits from Wally, click here.