Reading, PA- Oakbrook Olivet Boys & Girls Club director Milton Munroe spoke in front of 70 club children.
“There is nowhere in life that you’re going to go or be and not have to read,” Munroe told the kids Thursday night. “When you’re out on the street, all those signs, you have to read. When you’re going somewhere and have directions, you have to read. When you get a new toy and you want to make it work, you have instructions that you “
“Read!” the children shouted in unison.
Munroe teamed with local nonprofits to emphasize the importance of reading to the children at the club in a 200-book giveaway at the second Live to Read, Vivir Para Leer Grade Level Reading Campaign kickoff.
The campaign promotes and celebrates the importance of literacy in Reading with the ultimate aim of helping children reach or surpass grade level proficiency in reading.
The campaign is the product of collective efforts from the RIZE program, a local youth arts organization, the Bryant Johnson Community Fund, the Reading Public Library, the Reading Rotary Club and Olivet.
Carissa Johnson, cofounder of the Bryant Johnson Community Fund, said that by promoting reading, the community can strengthen the next generation.
“Reading is fundamental,” she said. “We are trying to build more productive children in Reading.”
As the campaign’s name suggests, it also recognizes the significant number of Latino and Spanish-speaking students in the city.
Latinos made up over 81 percent of the student body of the Reading School District in the 2014-15 school year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“So we are definitely trying to foster reading in both languages,” said RIZE program founder and director Edna Garcia-Dipini.
West Reading poet Luis A. Morales Guzman and Puerto Rican poet Abel D’Andrea shared original works in Spanish.
The event also purposely landed on the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
“I’m very glad to be here with the kids,” Morales Guzman said. “I think it is important for the kids to read and for them to see their roots.”