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October 21, 2015

Citywide initiative hopes to get more Baltimore kids reading

CBS Baltimore / October 20, 2015

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A city literacy program is calling on more volunteers to pitch in.

Amy Yensi reports the goal is to inspire a love for books in children.

For one hour every week, Casey Smith volunteers as a reading tutor.

“Just discovering the joy of reading; it seems it will open up so many more tremendous pathways for them,” Smith said.

The one on one session is part of the Reading Partners program, with city employees and workers from other Baltimore organizations reading along with third grade students like Amayah.

“I like to read because it makes you smarter,” said Amayah Matthews.

The program is in its fourth year and is expanding to 14 city schools to serve 800 children. Education officials say a child’s reading level in third grade determines his or her future academic success. That’s why the city is offering paid leave each week to its employees that volunteer.

Last year, 150 city employees served as reading partners. This year, the goal is to double that number to 300 city employees serving as volunteers.

Newly-minted Police Commissioner Kevin Davis is committing 100 police officers to help reach that goal.

“When you see a police officer walking into a school, we want your first thought to be that: `That police officer is here to read to me, to help me,’” Davis said.

A positive way to bond with the community and inspire the city’s youngest with a love for reading.

If you’d like to learn how to become a reading partner, click here.

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