Dwyane Wade, James Patterson push kids to read

 

lrobertson@miamiherald.com

Dwyane Wade and James Patterson know all about comebacks. Wade and his Miami Heat teammates climbed out of a 27-point hole Wednesday in Cleveland. Patterson’s high school team once crossed a seven-point gap in the last 49 seconds of a game.

Athlete and author are teaming up to help kids overcome a reading deficit in the U.S.

“It’s a massive problem,” Patterson said. “Dwyane and I have the same agenda: We want to get more kids reading. For me, this is about saving lives.”

Wade and Patterson visited Ponce de Leon Middle School in Coral Gables on Thursday to film a “One on One” discussion about their love of books with Heat TV host Jason Jackson for a national webcast April 25 at www. JamesPattersonEvents.com in collaboration with Wade’s World Foundation and NBA Cares.

Students who won an essay contest asked Wade and Patterson about their favorite books and characters. Wade mentioned Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” because “it’s catchy, it’s timeless, and I like food,” and “Playing For Keeps,” the nonfiction account of a season with his idol, Michael Jordan. He’d like to inhabit the Biblical character of David and take on Goliath.

Patterson cited “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and the Hardy Boys series and comic books he grew up reading. He’d like to be Spiderman for a day or “hang out with Jesus – there would be some ups and downs.”

Wade, 31, thanked his sister, and Patterson, 66, credited his grandmother as mentors who hooked them on books. Wade said reading gave him confidence and enabled him to write his own book last year, “A Father First.”

“I was a big dreamer,” Wade said. “Today, my life is so busy. … Reading is my time. I can become someone else. And the most fun I have is reading with my kids.”

Patterson, best-selling author of the Alex Cross detective series and Middle School series for young readers, said reading “should be play and joy; it’s better than TV or the movies,” and he recommends books that “turn you on” at his ReadKiddoRead.com website. Patterson, who awards hundreds of education scholarships, will donate 1,000 books through Hachette Book Group to Miami-Dade public school libraries for each point Wade scores March 27 against the Chicago Bulls.

“Dwyane and James got our kids so excited about their message,” Ponce principal Martha Chang said. “Imagine what they can do as they spread the word nationwide.”

Patterson, who awards hundreds of education scholarships, will donate 1,000 books through Hachette Book Group to Miami-Dade public school libraries for each point Wade scores March 27 against the Chicago Bulls.

“I hope you have a big night,” Patterson said. “Try not to push it to 50.”

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