Official Publication of the Massachusetts Teachers Association
Season opens for MTA Red Sox Reading Game
By Bob Duffy
C atcher 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
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
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
The reading contest is a hit in schools around
“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.
T o publicize the programs, 15,000 posters and 500,000 entry forms and bookmarks will be 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
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
J ennifer 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.
Information will be posted by early May, and 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, go to
Catcher David Ross, Wally and Massachusetts students are key players in the MTA reading contest.
Photos by Rick Friedman and Keiko Hirami; composite by Alison Donato