I did not enjoy reading when I was a boy. Nor did I have the stamina to try anything as long as a book. I found books intimidating and boring.
But I loved football.
So my mum used newspapers to build both my reading stamina and my idea of myself as a reader. She got me reading match reports, league tables, player interviews and more. I liked them because they were short and about something I wanted to know more about.
Also, they weren't book length, so there was no chance I was going to fail.
Euro 2012 gives parents a chance to enthuse football-loving children about reading, just like my mum did. Here are some tips on how you can get your child reading newspapers:
1. Deliver a football-heavy newspaper to your child's bedroom on the morning of big game.
2. Look at the newspaper yourself and read out bits to your child, leaving out the ending, to try to entice them to have a read themselves.
3. Find a newspaper feature about a player you know they admire. Someone from the club they support. Cut it out and see if they'll have a look at it. Stick it on the toliet wall if you think they'll have a look at it while there.
4. Pore over the post-match statistics in the newspaper. Player marks out of ten, number of shots on goal, etc. Try to guess what you and your child think will be the marks out of ten or other statistics before the game. This might encourage them to follow it up the next day in the newspaper.
5. Read out the interview the manager will have given after the game. Ask your child if they think he is telling the truth or just making excuses.
Some of these ideas might work. I hope so.
Once my mum had got me confident reading newspapers, I would even buy them myself to find out more about football. Soon I was a more confident reader and began to be less intimidated by books.
Sadly my mum is dead now. She saw me get into reading, but died before I started to try to write books. It's a great shame. But at least she left me with the wonderful legacy that is a love of reading.
For more Euro 2012 reading tips check out this blog tomorrow and have a look at http://tompalmer.co.uk/documents/TomPalmer-Ten-Top-Tips-for-family-reading.pdf.