House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers slug it out in the World Series, playing 10 innings for more than five hours in Game 5, House Speaker Robert DeLeo is once again going to bat for children – using baseball to make the case for early literacy.

DeLeo was speaking at Raising a Reader Massachusetts’ third annual Leadership in Literacy Award Breakfast where he was being honored as the Legislator of the Year.

“Some of you may know that I’m a big baseball fan,” DeLeo said at the breakfast. “So, I was struck by a Strategies for Children report that equated the experience of watching a game at Fenway Park with learning to read.”

That report is “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” written by Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard Graduate School of Education professor. It’s on page two that the the report tells the story of two children at Fenway Park.

DeLeo explained it this way:

“The report followed the experiences of two 10 year olds at Fenway Park: one child whose father exposed her to baseball at an early age, explained the rules of the game to her, and sparked her love for the sport. She knows when to cheer, and when to boo. 

“The other child had little to no exposure to baseball, and although others tried to engage him, his experience at Fenway was lacking.

“As the report insightfully notes, ‘everyone gets something from having gone to the ballpark, just as all readers get something from having read the book, but the novice is at a disadvantage from the first inning, or the first page.’ ” 

Or as the report itself says, “What children bring to the reading experience and what kinds of supports we provide greatly determine what they will get out of it.”

Our thanks to Speaker DeLeo for his strong support of early literacy – and early education and the early education workforce.

And while there isn’t (yet) a World Series for early literacy, we think this New York Times quote about Game 5 applies to early literacy as well:

“It was a game defined by home runs, but won through patience and hustle.”