Power of reading compelled Corey Peters to start high school book club
Regular reading maybe started for Corey Peters with the “Goosebumps” series and it wasn’t a first love. Growing up, the Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle remembers his parents asking him to read 30 minutes to an hour every day during the summers.
He didn’t necessarily like it and didn’t begin reading for enjoyment until adulthood. Now, it’s become a passion project.
“I think it’s a huge tie-in with the education system,” Peters said Friday on a Zoom call. “I think kids that can read better have more success. They’re more confident.
“If you can read, you’re able to teach yourself anything.”
Promoting reading is something that he’s doing more of these days.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Peters announced Thursday that he was expanding his student book club into a virtual setting. The Corey Peters Playbook, which began as bi-weekly meetings with students from South Pointe High School and South Pointe Elementary, will move online and be open to any Arizona high school students (interested students can register for the Zoom meetings by filling out a form at this link).
Peters hopes the virtual club can teach a broader group of members a few lessons that might translate into their own lives.
“I get a lot out of it as well,” Peters said, adding he loves finding books that offer ways for self-improvement. “I’m always so impressed by the kids and their points of views, the ideas that they come up with. The way they phrase things is always very interesting to me.”
The books and the discussions in the club will touch on current events and topical subjects.
Peters’ first club meeting had students read Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give,” which challenges racial and class divides from the perspective of a high school student. Upcoming on the list is “Marcelo in the Real World” by Francisco X. Stork, a novel in which a boy with an undiagnosed cognitive disorder interns at a law firm upon his father’s determination to make him experience “the real world.”
As a moderator, Peters said his job is to keep conversations civil and to promote understanding between students who might disagree.
What can be learned from that, Peters said, can be applied to his gig as a professional football player — or any job.
“… Guys are from everywhere, all types of people from all parts of the country, all personality types,” Peters said of the NFL locker room. “The conversations we have in there, we try to not get too deep, but sometimes guys disagree and you hear other peoples’ perspectives. And you don’t have to agree, but what that’s taught me is tolerance and understanding that just because I disagree with this person at a certain level doesn’t mean we can’t work together and be friends and all these things.
“That’s what I hope for the kids.”
He also hopes the students who join the club don’t view reading as a chore.
Peters remembers realizing the importance of reading in his college days at Kentucky, when he saw teammates lack confidence in the classroom. He believed that started with their lack of confidence in their own ability to read. Sometimes, Peters noticed otherwise smart guys falling behind in the classroom or struggling to have in-depth conversations about topics outside of football.
He feels lucky his parents pushed him to take up reading from an early age.
“As I got older and I spend time traveling now, I started to read more,” Peters said. “My favorite thing about reading is that you can experience so much just from your imagination. Often times we read books and they make those books into movies — I always like the books better because it allows your imagination to kind of fill in the blanks and make it your own story in a way.”
Peters’ love of reading isn’t restricted to his foundation’s educational work.
He tries to share literature with Cardinals teammates, whether they are avid readers or not.
“We talk about books a lot,” Peters said. “Instead of spending money on gifts, I try to find a book that is thoughtful that I think this person might like and (help) give back to them.
“I don’t know if they read those books or not, but they have them.”