College basketball analyst Dick Vitale says he “loves young kids” and having a chance to combine that with raising funds for pediatric cancer made it easy for him to be part of a the first in what will be a series of educational and inspirational books for children.
The legendary ESPN analyst Vitale, a grandfather of five, teamed with Ascend Books to publish “Dickie V’s ABCs and 1-2-3s: A Great Start for Young Superstars.” It is the inaugural title in the Dick Vitale Children’s Literacy Initiative and is Vitale’s first children’s book. He has agreed to do six additional books on such issues as motivation, childhood obesity and bullying.
“Every year for the last six years I have made a commitment to raise $1 million for pediactric cancer and all profits from this book go toward that,” Vitale said.
Vitale had already done one book — “Dick Vitale’s Fabulous 50 Players and Moments in College Basketball” — with Ascend Books and was sold on the project once he found out the illustrator would be Craig Lueck.
“The publisher put me together with an incredible illustrator,” Vitale said. “He really understands creativity and art work for kids. The book is doing well, too, in our own little world.”
It’s a fun read. It teaches the alphabet through basketball words that Vitale uses. For example, "D" is for "dunk.” In the counting section of the book, Vitale counts using colorful basketballs.
The book has a special feature: A video introduction by Vitale and digital audio clips for all 26 letters in Vitale’s own voice to encourage the child.
“It was so much fun to do the book. Now to see the look on little kids’ eyes when they come over and you autograph the book or parents tll you how much the kid likes the book is just overwhelming. It’s aimed for kids 2 to 6,” Vitale said. “Fortunately, the reviews have been great and I’m already excited about ones we will do in the future.”
The book is available at spots like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (including an e-edition) or at Dickvitaleonline.com where you can secure an autographed copy for $14.95.
Vitale says you can even call the Broken Egg, a restaurant in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., near his home, to order a book.
“I go there every day I can. Just call to order, pay the shipping costs and I guarantee you they will get it right out,” Vitale said.