Pats give students a reading pep talk

Patriots cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington and guard Donald Thomas addressed a packed gymnasium at the North Attleborough Middle School as part of the “Read Between the Lines” program conducted by the Patriots Charitable Foundation on Wednesday afternoon.

The program is designed to emphasize the importance of summer reading, and students can earn a follow-up school assembly this fall featuring another visit from Patriots players if they meet their school’s summer reading goals.

The school has set a collective goal of reading at least 2,890 books this summer, which is equal to the number of rushing yards the Patriots accumulated in 2011 added to the number of tackles made by the defense in 2011.

The energized crowd was filled with Patriots paraphernalia, and the trio of players stressed the importance of dedicating themselves to studying their playbook throughout the offseason.

Each answered a number of questions from the crowd, and Arrington revealed that he’s in the middle of the first book of the popular trilogy "The Hunger Games," which he hopes to finish before watching the DVD.

When asked to share their favorite books growing up, Arrington said he was a fan of the popular "Goosebumps" series, while McCourty preferred "Of Mice And Men" and Thomas enjoyed "A Child Called It."

Thomas spoke about the importance of the visit.

“Kids don’t read as much as they used to, with video games and everything else going on and movies and stuff. For us to come back and talk to them and try to get them to really think reading is kind of cool, I thought was fun. Anything to help the kids.”

Arrington added, “It was great, just being able to give back like this and encourage such a great cause. It never gets old-fashioned. What they say, ‘reading is fundamental,’ ” he said.

McCourty likened the students' summer reading assignment to Patriots players readying themselves for training camp after the conclusion of the team’s minicamp next week.

“A lot of what the teachers are telling the kids, it’s very similar to what we do. Them leaving for the summer, and us leaving before training camp, and them coming back doing their job, being well prepared, getting ready for the school year is the same thing we’ll do,” he said.

“We’ll leave and be working individually to come back together as a team and try to be ready for the season," he said.