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Education Station: Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge kicks off Saturday

To combat the city's 66% illiteracy rate, Mayor Bibb and others are challenging Clevelanders to read one million books and/or one million minutes in 2023.

CLEVELAND — A city that reads together grows together. That's the goal of Mayor Justin Bibb and nearly 30 community organizations challenging Cleveland to read one million books and/or one million minutes in 2023. 

The Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge is a yearlong effort to boost literacy in Cleveland. It kicks off this week and not a moment too soon.

"The city, unfortunately, has a 66% illiteracy rate," says Felton Thomas, Executive Director & CEO of Cleveland Public Library.

That troubling number prompting the Mayor’s Office, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Metro Schools, and dozens of others – including 3News – to join forces, encouraging children and adults to take the Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge.

"The goals are to get the community to read 1-million items or 1-million minutes over the year of 2023," says Thomas.


Rolling around the city, you might spot one of four RTA buses wrapped with messages supporting the Cleveland Reads Challenge. Margo Hudson was overwhelmed seeing herself on one of the buses. A decade ago, local group Seeds of Literacy helped her earn her GED after she failed the test 5 times.

"Wow! Words cannot describe. I mean this is unbelievable seeing myself on a bus. I dropped out of high school. I received my GED in 2012. And since then, even before then, I became a big reader. And I wasn’t a reader when I was a kid. I'm speechless," says Hudson.

Tray’Onna Fisher - an avid kid reader and  East Clark School student - is one of the first featured readers of the Cleveland Reads campaign. She had some advice for her peers.

"Even if you don’t like reading, you should still try to read, because some books you might actually relate to, some books you might actually like, you never know. Join the Challenge. Cleveland Reads!" says Fisher.

Young or old, the Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge is for YOU... for all of us… for the city of Cleveland!

The official Cleveland Reads kick-off celebration is Saturday December 17th, noon to 3 p.m., downtown at Public Auditorium. It’s family friendly, with games, live music, food, cool prizes, and the RTA Community Immunity Bus will be providing free COVID vaccines and boosters. Over 40,000 free books will be given away at the event. 

Transportation to Public Auditorium will be provided to and from five Cleveland Public Library locations: Carnegie West, Glenville, Hough, Rice and Rockport. Buses will depart from the branches at 11:30 a.m. and return all riders to their pickup location by 3:30 p.m.

To register for the Cleveland Reads Challenge or for more information, click here.

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