Author Tim Green was always reading. He was reading on the bus to school, in the locker room before his high school athletic games, and in the locker room before his games as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.  “I never went into an athletic contest where I had not been sitting there beforehand reading a book,” Green told the middle school students.

Green described reading as a way to escape from his nerves before a wrestling match or a football game and encouraged students to pick up a book. “You're one book away from becoming a reader,” he said. He told them to keep reading until they found the book they couldn't put down. “I call books weightlifting for the brain.”

Green’s books are realistic fiction and center on sports, but he says they are not about sports. He describes his books as being about relationships, friendships, dilemmas – and they just happen to take place in the sports world. He writes many of them based on his own experiences and hopes his readers relate to the stories.

Much of Green’s talk focused on the importance of education. He was an A student in high school, played football at Syracuse University and went on to play for the NFL. During the off-season, Green attended law school. “Education is power. Education is freedom,” he said. He explained that athletes, as competitors, are competitive through and through, not just on the field. “Take that competitiveness into the classroom and be the best you can be – you’re there to learn.”

Middle school librarian Romy Bennett said Green’s visit had a big impact on the students, many of whom love to read his books and were excited to meet him. “Mr. Green’s message about reading and its profound effect on his life spoke to the values we want to instill in our students,” she said. “Learning to work hard, commit to a task, respect others and love are lessons that lead to success.”