The NBA’s Read to Achieve program tipped off its second season with “Read to Achieve Week” from October 21-25, looking to build on the success of last year when an estimated 50 million children were reached through the program. Teams held local events during the week to help young people develop a love for reading and to encourage adults to read regularly to children.

Students visited public libraries, zoos, aquariums and arenas around the country to meet with NBA players and participate in reading activities. In Atlanta, Theo Ratliff invited students who attended his summer reading program to participate in a Read Aloud with other Hawks players and gave them the chance to win prizes. Meanwhile, 50 second graders joined the Denver Nuggets at the Colorado Ocean Journey and read a Rainbow Fish book in front of one of the exhibit tanks. Each of the participating students received a new book and autographs. Every team conducted similar events to celebrate Read to Achieve Week.

Milwaukee's Ray Allen and Bucks' mascot Bango know the importance of reading to achieve.
Gary Dineen
NBAE/Getty Images
The entire NBA family, including current and former players, referees and mothers and fathers of players, actively supports the effort to promote literacy.

"I'm on the Reading is Fundamental board, as well, so I am very much a part of the reading program," said San Antonio's Steve Smith, winner of last season's Sportsmanship Award. "It's not just about giving financially. It's about sitting with people, little kids, and giving of your time. And Read to Achieve is a way of doing that and helping out in the community."

Smith donated the Sportsmanship Award’s $25,000 bonus to Reading is Fundamental, Inc., the nation's largest children's and family literacy organization.

Teams and players will be more active throughout the 2002-03 season in an effort to expand public awareness. Teams will host two Reading Time-Outs per month. Through in-school visits and Reading & Learning Center events, children will have greater access to books and technology.

In the first year of the Read to Achieve program, over 300 national and local Reading Time-Outs have been held, reaching more than 300,000 students. Thirty Reading & Learning Centers and more than 50 Reading Corners in schools and community based organizations were opened during the 2001-02 season, including two new centers in Los Angeles and New Jersey during the 2002 NBA Finals.

The NBA’s Read to Achieve program is a year-round campaign to help young people develop a life-long love for reading and encourage adults to read regularly to children. Reaching millions of children each year, Read to Achieve is the most extensive educational outreach initiative in the history of professional sports.