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Patriots Tight End and Children's Book Author Martellus Bennett Reads to Students at Tobin School
Mayor's Education Chief Rahn Dorsey and Read to a Child CEO Paul Lamoureux Highlight Partnerships Designed to Help Close the Literacy Gap
Patriots Tight End and Children's Book Author Martellus Bennett visits Read to a Child's Lunchtime Reading Program at Boston Public Schools' Tobin K-8
Photo credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Boston, MA, November 16, 2016 - Yesterday, New England Patriots star tight end, children's book author and founder of The Imagination Agency, Martellus Bennett was joined by Boston Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey, Read to a Child CEO Paul Lamoureux and Boston Public Schools leaders to highlight the importance of mentoring partnerships that boost literacy skills and self-confidence in urban public school students. Bennett read his children's book "Hey A.J. It's Saturday!" to children in Read to a Child's Lunchtime Reading Program at the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury.
The Maurice J. Tobin School is one of 17 public elementary schools in greater Boston where Read to a Child, a national non-profit literacy and mentoring organization, operates its Lunchtime Reading Program. Read to a Child enlists and manages a force of 1,500 corporate volunteers from more than 100 organizations that visit urban elementary schools once a week and read aloud one-on-one to children during lunch. This time spent with a caring adult ignites a love of reading in struggling children, while providing students with the skills and self-confidence to succeed in school and in life.
"It's super awesome to have a chance to partner with Read to a Child and highlight the importance of reading," said Martellus Bennett. "Not a day goes by that I don't pick up a book and read a page of it for myself. (I am currently reading "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman.) Or let a night go by that my daughter, Jett, goes to bed without a bedtime story. (Tonight's book is "Hey, That's My Monster" by Amanda Noll.)" Continued Bennett, "Every kid in the world deserves a fantastic bedtime story read to them. Every kid deserves an adventure. Reading to a child guarantees that they get to go on that great adventure."
"I wrote the, 'Hey A.J' children's book series to always be there for my daughter, even after I'm gone," Bennett said. "As a father, I never want her to not have advice or food for thought from her father. Stories live on forever. This is a big part of my daddy legacy. The character AJ is based on my daughter, Jett, and the adventures my family has. I want my daughter and other kids of colors to be able to grow up with a character of color that focuses on imagination and adventures, not just their skin color or hair."
"I applaud Martellus Bennett for highlighting the importance of being able to read well and Read to a Child for its innovative model of utilizing volunteers from area corporations to act as reading mentors in public schools," said Boston Education Chief Rahn Dorsey. "Increasing literacy skills in our elementary school children is critical to improve their chances for success in school and life, and the mentoring experience is also so beneficial in boosting key socio-emotional skills like self-confidence among at-risk kids."
"We are grateful to Read to a Child and CEO Paul Lamoureux and Martellus Bennett of the Patriots for investing in our children and furthering our work as a district," said Superintendent Tommy Chang. "I look forward to seeing our students' reading and writing skills continue to progress as they connect with and gain inspiration from non-fiction text and literature."
"Alarmingly 80 percent of fourth graders from low-income families in the United States are not proficient readers and two-thirds of these struggling readers will end up on welfare or in jail," said Read to a Child CEO, Paul Lamoureux. "It is in the face of this societal crisis that partnerships for improving literacy skills are crucial. I am deeply thankful to Martellus Bennett for helping to raise awareness. Martellus is also such a great role model for kids and clearly shows how a love of reading and a creative imagination can spark wondrous accomplishments far beyond the playing field."
"I deeply value our partnership with Read to a Child because I see the results of the dedicated mentors who come each week to read with our students," said Efrain Toledano, Maurice J. Tobin K-8 Principal. "In addition to the mentoring relationships that develop, I see our students learning to love books. I believe strongly that developing a love of reading gives children an important tool to ensure that they are lifelong learners. Our partnership with Read to a Child is an important part of helping our students become lifelong readers and lifelong learners."