Sidelines and Sidebars


Written by Brad Herzog/ Illustrated by Mark Braught

Scrimmage, spiral, offense, interception: those words would cause many first-grader readers to stumble—or maybe even fumble! But try putting T is for Touchdown in the hands of 6-year-old football fans who’ve learned about the sport from chatting with grown-up fans like Dad, Mom, Gramps, or Aunty Kate. You’ll be cheering as the young readers streak down the field—sorry—through the text! The benefit children gain from conversations with the grown-ups in their lives, especially about topics that have captured their interest, is tough to underestimate. Reading is about making meaning out of all those letters on the page, and it’s a lot easier if you “speak the language” of the topic.

It’s also hard to underestimate the appeal of sidebars for supplying additional content for a young reader’s adult companion. Not every adult has the patience to allow time for a developing reader to sound out words and re-read sentences as their meaning dawns. But it sure does help to have fun facts to peruse right there on the same page.

The main text for each letter in this gorgeously illustrated book is a clever and pithy four-line poem. Here’s the poem for letter N:

No college team has ever had

As much success and fame

As football’s famous fighting N—

noble Notre Dame.

And for Gramps or Aunty Kate, the sidebar details Notre Dame’s national championships and Heisman trophy winners and goes on to other football topics beginning with N—NFL and NICKNAMES of famous players like Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch.

This book sails through the goalpost for sure!