Sports Shorts

By Jeanette Larson

Length of Program

50-60 minutes

Program Description

Short stories offer teens the opportunity to read without committing to a lot of time. In this program, teens will participate in a “read-in,” and will spend a specific amount of time simply enjoying reading. They will make bookmarks, and you may encourage them to write a song about a favorite book or short story.


Gather a variety of reading materials that has high teen appeal. Include sports magazines, graphic novels, and short stories. Be sure to have something for you to read, as well! Decorate an area to be attractive to teens. If possible, provide casual furniture, such as beanbags, floppy pillows, and butterfly chairs. U.S. Toy Company sells inflatable youth chairs with a football motif for about $5.00. Get the recording, “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” on Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden. You may wish to read to the lyrics, available on the Lyrics Freak web site at, in advance.

Books to Display

  • Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe.
  • Losing is Not an Option by Rich Wallace.
  • Sports Illustrated 1954-2004: Fifty Years of Great Writing by the Editors of Sports Illustrated.
  • Ultimate Sports by Don Gallo.
  • A Whole Other Ball Game: Women's Literature on Women's Sport by Joli Sandoz.

Books to Booktalk

  • Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories by Chris Crutcher.
  • Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto.
  • The Random House Book of Sports Stories selected by L. M Schulman.
  • Sports Stories by Alan Durant.


Provide juice boxes, granola bars, pretzels, and other snacks that are good for nibbling while reading.


Give each teen a “sports relax ball,” available from U.S. Toy Company. These foam balls sell for less than a dollar each and help release stress.

Audio Recordings

“Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” on Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden. (6.5 minutes)


Sports Bookmarks


  • Old magazines
  • Glue sticks
  • Cardstock, pre-cut to 2” x 6 1/2” strips
  • Clear packing tape (commercial grade, 2” wide)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)


Teens will select a variety of pictures from the magazines that express their own interests in sports and hobbies. They might also select letters to spell their names or the name of a favorite sport. After cutting out the letters and pictures, the teens arrange them on the cardstock and glue them in place when satisfied. They cover the front and back with a strip of tape so that the cardstock is “sandwiched” between the pieces of tape. Punch a hole at the top of the bookmark and tie on a piece of ribbon, if desired. Alternatively, Demco sells vinyl sleeves and tassels to protect the bookmark without using tape. Simply slip the finished bookmark into the protective sleeve to complete the bookmark.

Games and Activities


Provide an assortment of short stories for teens to read and provide time for everyone to read silently. Examples are Rush Hour edited by Michael Cart, which include short stories and “Surviving Jock Culture” by Robert Lipsyte, which is a sports story available in the issue Rush Hour: Bad Boys. Note that while Rush Hour, published by Random House, is considered a periodical and the stories are timeless. Teens may read for as little as fifteen minutes or as long as half an hour. Examples

Song Books

Display a copy of the lyrics for Iron Maiden’s song, “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and play the song. Show the book Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe and read a short excerpt from the title story. Display books and recordings of other songs that are based on a piece of literature, mention literary works, or include the names of authors. Provide paper and pencils for teens who would like to try their hand at writing poetry or a song based on a book of their choosing.

Other literary-based songs include "Virginia Woolf" by Indigo Girls, "The Dangling Conversation" by Simon and Garfunkel (based on the poetry by Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost); “Wuthering Heights” by Pat Benatar; “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors” by Fruvous (which mentions many authors including feminist author bell hooks and Gabriel Garcia Marquez); “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springteen (The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck); and “Moon Over Bourbon Street” by Sting (Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice). A list is available at Artists for Literacy. Another list is available at Song Facts. Search for one of the songs mentioned here and then click on “More songs inspired by books.”


  • Rush Hour.
  • Teen Ink.
  • Writing for Teens.

Web Sites

Frodo’s Notebook
This on-line journal highlights the poetry, essays, and experimental writing of teens. It was begun by a teen in 1998.

Student Writing
Weekly Reader provides monthly writing activities and publishes examples of student writing on this web site that supports its Writing for Teens magazine.

Teen Ink
An on-line magazine for teens to read what other teens have written and submit their own work.

Professional Resources

Rush Hour: Bad Boys by Michael Cart.
Artists for Literacy
Artist for Literacy's mission is to enrich the lives of reading challenged youth. Their “Songs Inspired By Literature (SIBL)” Project encourages literacy by linking music and literature.

Purchase vinyl sleeves to protect handmade bookmarks.

Lyrics Freak
This web site provides lyrics for popular songs.

Song Facts
This searchable database of song information compiled by radio professionals and music enthusiasts offers information about a wide variety of songs.

U.S. Toy Company
This on-line retailer sells inexpensive inflatable furniture with sports motifs.


Texas Reading Club 2006 Programming Manual / Reading: The Sport of Champions!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011