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March 16, 2022

In the Season of Brackets and Buzzer-Beaters, Reading Partners Creates a Tournament Twist that Celebrates Inclusive Children’s Books


Michael Todd

National Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, Reading Partners

415-225-9139  |


In the Season of Brackets and Buzzer-Beaters, Reading Partners Creates a Tournament Twist that Celebrates Inclusive Children’s Books 

Nonprofit knows that books that promote representation help inspire lifelong readers

(Oakland, CA) March 15, 2022 – The day Stephen Curry scored 40 points to lead the Davidson Wildcats to victory over Gonzaga in the 2008 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is the day he (and Davidson) appeared on the radar of many basketball and non-basketball fans alike. The NCAA basketball tournament has a long tradition of unveiling breakout players and teams to the world.

In a country where only 35 percent of fourth graders are reading at grade level and where people of color remain greatly underrepresented in children’s literature, Reading Partners believes that inclusive books should be promoted and discovered the same way basketball players and their teams enjoy broad exposure during the NCAA tournament each spring.

This year, Reading Partners, a national early literacy nonprofit, is proud to unveil its own bracket consisting of 64 children’s book titles which they are calling the March Madness: Inclusive Books Edition. Reading Partners’ objective in creating the list is to showcase inclusive, representative literature that students, educators, and families can enjoy.

“Through our 22 years of work in the early literacy space, we know that students of all backgrounds, and particularly students from marginalized communities, benefit greatly from having access to books that reflect and celebrate the rich diversity of this country and world. Our hope is that in much the same way that basketball players and teams get “discovered” during March Madness, the inclusive books we are featuring will enjoy a strong spike in awareness.”

To mirror the NCAA tournament, Reading Partners curated its book list to include four literary themes with 16 titles each: Historical Storytelling, Family Bonds, Unforgettable Characters, and Favorite Fiction. They then randomly “pre-seeded” their four themes and the 64 books contained within them into a complete bracket. After the men’s basketball bracket was determined on Selection Sunday, each of the 64 respective teams were paired with the corresponding book in Reading Partners’ Inclusive Books Edition bracket. Each time a team advances in the NCAA tournament, the book that it is paired with will also move forward and get some extra attention on Reading Partners’ website and social media channels. Reading Partners will also connect with the schools paired with each book to encourage participation in the Inclusive Books version of the tournament. Ultimately, Reading Partners views all 64 books in their March Madness: Inclusive Books Edition bracket, and so many more, as “winners” worthy of becoming better known in homes, schools, and libraries across the country.

Many of the basketball players who achieve greatness in this year’s NCAA tournament will be able to credit countless one-on-one battles with teammates and family members for their success. Similarly, working one-on-one with their tutors, Reading Partners students become proud, confident readers and research shows that students who read at grade level by fourth grade have a greater opportunity to shine in school and beyond.

Reading Partners believes reading is foundational and that the ability to read transforms lives and empowers children and communities to thrive. To get involved with or learn more about Reading Partners, please visit

A volunteer tutor works on a lesson with a Reading Partners student (photo credit: Reading Partners)

Reading Partners’ March Madness: Inclusive Books Edition bracket


About Reading Partners
For over 20 years, Reading Partners has helped empower students to succeed in school and beyond by engaging community volunteers to provide one-on-one literacy tutoring. Since its founding, the national nonprofit organization has mobilized over 70,000 community volunteers to provide proven, individualized literacy tutoring to nearly 70,000 elementary school students in over 450 under-resourced schools across ten states and the District of Columbia. Visit to learn more about our program impact and our Reading Partners Connects online program innovation, or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Reading Partners is a proud AmeriCorps service partner and has been endorsed by The New York Times.

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