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NBA star Dwight Howard encourages children to read

GPLS News, June 2017

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NBA star Dwight Howard encourages children to read
Howard joins Kayleigh Stargell, Demetrius Longmire, Sam and Charlie Capretta, and Laila Byrd on the READ carpet, who were among the winners of the D12 Foundation’s video contest to promote reading.

In addition to his role as a basketball superstar, Dwight Howard plays a lesser-known role in another important local arena – championing literacy for the state’s youngest kids.

Last fall, Howard’s literacy efforts resulted in a meeting with Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series, when Kinney was in town shooting the latest film adaptation from the book series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” Kinney invited the eight-time NBA All-Star to visit the set, and a friendship formed. Howard asked to host the film’s Atlanta debut, as a reward and incentive for Atlanta’s young readers, including past participants of the Atlanta Hawks’ Check It Out Reading Challenge (CIORC) at Georgia’s public libraries.

On May 14, Howard and Kinney hosted an exclusive screening of the film and invited a number of lucky young readers to join them, cast members and other athletes and artists to walk “The READ Carpet” and share what they plan to read this summer or loved reading as a child.

The event served as the official launch of this year’s CIORC, for which Howard is serving as chair. In partnership with Georgia Public Library Service, the CIORC encourages kids to use their local library to enhance summer learning, achieve their reading goals and earn a ticket for a future Hawks game. Presented by Philips, the program is enjoying its 13th year.

Howard said he was excited to see the film, spot some Atlanta sights in the scenery, and share the READ Carpet with the movie’s cast members and young Georgia readers.

“The Wimpy Kid books are fun for kids to read and, really, if a kid enjoys reading, that makes learning everything easier,” he said. “I hope kids see the film and think about reading the next book – and the next one. A kid who likes reading is a kid who’ll be successful.”

This month ESPN named Howard to its annual ranking of the biggest names in sports, the World Fame 100. He is founder and president of the D12 Foundation, which focuses on facilitating positive change in the lives of youth and seeks to strategically and effectively help close critical community gaps in key areas, including early childhood education and literacy.

The 2017 CIORC runs through Aug. 26 at all Georgia public libraries. For more info or to sign up, visit www.checkitoutreading.com.