Athletes have an internal flame that makes them unique. The desire and drive for success can mean that athletes see friends, family, church, and school as distractions. But it does not need to be that way.

Dare to Dream, Play to Win is a charming story about 9-year-old Cameron, an avid football fan, who has difficulty reading. Cameron cannot focus on his schoolwork because he spends his days fantasizing about being an NFL star. This causes him to make some bad decisions that prevent him from reaching his potential in school. Later on, Cameron meets a professional football player, Johnny, who inspires him to work harder and to “dare to dream.” With help from Johnny, his mother, and even his little sister, Cameron learns about teamwork, honesty, and determination. This book inspires kids to aim for the sky in order to be successful in academics as well as in sports. Children who struggle to focus in school or in any academic endeavor will find this compelling book especially meaningful.



After reading Dare to Dream to my 7-year-old daughter, I would definitely recommend it to every parent and teacher. This story kept both of us entertained while teaching my daughter the important lessons that are team work, honesty, and perseverance. My daughter could easily relate to the main character, Cameron, because she too likes football and reading. The lesson plan that comes with the book offers several activities that engage the young one’s mind and makes them think about the responsibilities that come with being a grown up. It also comes with a list of vocabulary words for the child/children to learn before they begin the book which helps them follow the story better and understand the slightly advanced vocabulary. Overall my experience with the book and lesson plan was fantastic and my daughter very much enjoyed them. I give the Dare to Dream book and lesson 5 stars!

“I believe this would make a great book for students who encounter difficulty reading . . . .” “It is very clear and to the point that reading truly matters and that even “cool” kids read. This would make a great book for reading tutors at schools to help motivate the students to read.” Nancy Stellway

It is an excellent representation of the importance of education, not for only talented, active athletes but also for those kids who may wish they were athletic. Many non-athletic kids lose focus in school by thinking they don’t measure up. Reminding ALL kids of the importance of education is important.

“I think it is really terrific and I am impressed by your desire to share such an important message with kids. My father was (is!) a football fanatic and your story reminds me a lot of him – though he never made it as far as you did.”

 Dare to Dream, Play to Win has taken the challenge to inspire kids of all ages to support their love of athletic sports and nurture the growth and development of well educated leaders for the future. His enriching main character Cameron is easy to understand and relate too, his experiences will resonate well with dilemma’s facing children today when they aspire to become stars in sports, and need the courage to prepare their minds and bodies for success. Johnathon J. Smith’s

 Dare to Dream, Play to Win incorporates friendly illustrations and characters that are sure to please children, teachers, and parents alike.

This was a great story. As a teacher of 20 years, I cannot tell you how many kids really think they are going to play pro sports. And reasoning with statistics does not sway them. If this story wakes one kid up, you have succeeded. 🙂 Thank you.

The book teaches about keeping a balance between life and fun. Sports teach teamwork, leadership, and setting goals which are some of the most important things in the game called life. It is easy to give up on something which is tough and concentrate on the easier things. However, Cameron learns that failure or difficulties doesn’t mean one should quit. Instead, one must try harder to achieve it. Quoting Bill Copeland, Johnny tells Cameron, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” That is why one must dare to dream and play to win.

Author Johnathon J. Smith

I love the story, and the message it sends to children about aiming high. I think this is an interesting book for both children and adults. I especially liked what Johnny said to the kids. And I smiled about Nia always wearing purple. I like the way that was written into the story.

November 2021
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