Today is going to be an exciting day for some very special kids in the Atlanta area. If the truth be known, it is going to be an exciting day for my husband and I too! Today Dwight Howard of the Atlanta Hawks will be hosting a special screening of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Guess who is going to be there? Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and Jason Drucker who plays Greg Heffley in the newest film. While we may not be well-known for our skills on the court (well maybe I am with my class at school) or well-known for writing some of the funniest books around for kids, my husband and I will also be attendance!
In addition to his role on his hometown’s basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks’ Dwight Howard plays a lesser known role in another important local arena – championing literacy for Atlanta’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 (one of the most successful kids’ series of all time). Kinney, in town shooting the latest film adaptation from the book series, invited the Hawks’ center to visit the set.
A friendship formed and Howard asked to host the film’s Atlanta debut, as a reward – and incentive – for Atlanta’s young readers. On Sunday, May 14 at 4:30PM, Howard and Kinney will host an exclusive screening of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL for youth participants in a variety of Atlanta reading programs. Instead of a “Red Carpet,” kids, cast members, athletes and artists will walk a “READ Carpet,” sharing what they plan to read this summer – or loved reading as a child. You can check out a lot of cool “READ Carpet” videos from kids on the D12 Foundation Facebook page.
The Atlanta Hawks’ Check It Out Reading Challenge (CIORC), presented by Philips, will also officially launch on May 14. Chaired by Howard and starting its 13th year of partnership with the Georgia Public Library Service, CIORC encourages kids to use their local library to enhance summer learning and kids who achieve their reading goals earn a ticket for a future Hawks’ game. Kids can learn more about at their local library and online at www.checkitoutreading.com.
For his part, Howard is excited to see the film, spot some Atlanta sights in the scenery, and share the “READ Carpet” with Kinney and Jason Ian Drucker, who plays the story’s hero, Greg Heffley. Howard says: “The WIMPY KID books are fun for kids to read and, really, if a kid enjoys reading, that makes learning everything easier. 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.”
As an avid reader who loves to get lost in a good book AND as an educator that strives to excite children’s imaginations with reading, the efforts of Dwight Howard truly impress me. I can’t stress just how important it is to have your child READ over the summer! In a time when electronic devices can easily capture the attention of children, getting your child on board with summer reading is going to be very important!
As a mother of boys, I know how important summertime is and the need for kids just to be kids! My children are no exception! As a teacher, summer shouldn’t mean taking a break from learning, especially reading. Summer reading is very important in developing life-long reading habits, in maintaining literacy skills and in promoting reading for pleasure. Studies have repeatedly shown that children who continue to read during the summer months perform better when school resumes in the fall. Research also reveals that most students experience a loss of reading skills over the summer months, but children who continue to read actually gain skills. While I know it may be hard and some of you may have a “fight” on your hands just for asking or requiring reading, please make efforts this summer to help children keep those reading skills they just gained from the school year.
So we hope that you will encourage your children to not take a “long haul” break from reading this summer. There are plenty of great books to be read and enjoyed! Just head to your local library to help your child discover the world that is just waiting to be discovered by them.
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About Dwight Howard’s D12 Foundation (www.D12Foundation.org): The D12 Foundation is focused on facilitating positive change in the lives of American youth through strategic programmatic and partners. The foundation also has a strong focus on the education of girls in East Africa. Guided by D12 Foundation founder and president, Dwight Howard, the Foundation strategically fills critical community needs by collaborating with individuals and organizations who share our vision in three key areas:
Early Childhood Education and Literacy
Girls Empowerment through Education in East Africa
Youth Leadership Development