A new year brings a new reading goal, and this year Cleveland has jumped into a citywide initiative to engage readers and boost literacy rates.
Cleveland Reads is a collective effort for Clevelanders to read one million books, or one million minutes of reading, by Dec. 31, 2023. The initiative is run by the Mayor’s office, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Cleveland Teachers Union, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and dozens of other community organizations, according to Cleveland Reads’ website.
The initiative kicked off in late 2022, with a Book Bash event that drew in 1,500 attendees, according to CPL director of marketing Kelly Woodard. The Book Bash distributed 10,000 books and registered more than 14,000 people for the challenge.
As they add to their book logs on the Cleveland Reads Beanstack page, participants can enter raffles and spin prize wheels, with items like a Nintendo Switch and gift cards given out to lucky winners, according to a news release.
According to Seeds of Literacy, a local nonprofit, more than half of Clevelanders (66%) are functionally illiterate.
“Reading is a passion of mine, and it’s helped guide me through various stages of life. Books have influenced me emotionally, spiritually, and professionally, and I hope Cleveland Reads brings that same love to all Clevelanders,” says Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb on the Cleveland Reads website. “Boosting literacy is one way to improve outcomes in our community — from academic success to workforce development.”
Literary Cleveland has sweetened the deal by offering an additional challenge to pair with Cleveland Reads, and to support the local literary community. For every locally written book participants read, they get an entry to win a free, locally-made pizza. Pizzas will be raffled off every month.
Are you looking for local book recommendations? Here are 10 to start with.
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