Cardinals' Corey Peters starts virtual book club for high school students

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters has figured out a way to continue giving back to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Peters started The Corey Peters Playbook, a weekly virtual book club for Arizona high school students. It’s the continuation of an idea he had last fall.

Every other Tuesday, the Cardinals’ off day, Peters had hosted a book club at South Pointe High School in Phoenix. It continued through the early portion of the offseason but was cut short when schools in Arizona closed because of the coronavirus.

By having a virtual book club on Zoom, Peters said he can reach more students. He’ll have the chance to have sessions with multiple groups and “reach kids all over.”

He hopes to help the kids who enroll learn, not just read for enjoyment, but read books that they can take messages from, help them see other perspectives and “that will make things easier for them now as well as in the future.”

An example is his pick of “Marcelo in the Real World” for the next book. It’s about a 17-year-old who has Asperger’s syndrome who interns in the mailroom of his father’s law firm to learn about working in the real world.

Peters said that during his in-person book club, he invited one Cardinals teammate every session to join the discussions.

In the Cardinals’ locker room, Peters has begun to discuss books “a lot” with teammates. He has started giving books as gifts and tries to find ones that are thoughtful and unique to each teammate.

“I don’t know that they read those books or not,” Peters said with a laugh.

Peters, who started his Peters Education Enrichment Project in 2012, said on a conference call with reporters Friday that his role in the book club is to facilitate a healthy and safe learning environment where students can feel comfortable sharing their opinions and their peers aren’t abusive or stepping on their beliefs. Peters hopes to share the tolerance he’s learned from his years in locker rooms where people come have many different backgrounds and beliefs.

“Honestly, I get a lot out of it as well,” Peters said. “I’m always so impressed with the kids and their points of view, what they get out of it and the way they phrase things.”

Reading was always a part of Peters’ childhood. His parents made him read for 30 minutes to an hour a day, he said. One of his earliest recollections of reading was the “Goosebumps” series. He’s picked up reading more now that he’s an adult and traveling, he added. It’s given his imagination an opportunity to flourish.

In college, Peters saw firsthand how reading can impact a person.

Some of his teammates at the University of Kentucky were not comfortable in classroom settings or talking in front of large groups because they weren’t confident in their ability to read, he said.

“I just think that reading is an important thing,” he said. “It’s an easy thing. Everybody has access to some information with the internet, and if you’re able to read, you’re able to teach yourself anything. I truly believe that.”

Peters said he prefers books to their movie bretheren because of how his imagination allows him to fill in the blanks.

Now, he reads books that can help improve himself, like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki, and other “information-based books.” Peters has also ventured into fiction.