When Bob Swope helps students survey the tables of books at Little Bit’s 1-2-3 Read! book fairs each week, he explains to them that the outside doesn’t always give away what’s inside. The 83-year-old knows a thing or two about books – the author of 135 sports instruction and other informational books – but also about the universal language of learning. “The kids and I may have decades between us, but we share a passion for the timeless art of storytelling and for absorbing all of the knowledge we can,” says Swope.
Reading about Little Bit on the front page of the Post-Dispatch last Thanksgiving, Swope picked up the phone to offer his services. “Teaching kids is in my blood, and the book fairs seemed like a logical fit.” An engineer for 49 years, Swope began coaching youth sports in his early 40s, later transcribing his lessons into dozens of books covering 23 different sports, which have sold all over the world. Today, he spends his mornings teaching youth diving and his Fridays telling jokes, riddles and stories to students at Little Bit book fairs. “I encourage them to read all they can, because anything they want to know can be found in a book.”
The patriarch of 27 assorted grand and great grandchildren says he receives plenty in return, describing a first grader who darted out of line to give him a big hug. “I guess I have that grandfatherly effect.”