This summer, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, the Tampa Bay Rays and Suncoast Credit Union will host the 10th season of "Reading with the Rays - Read Your Way to the Ballpark" program. The incentive-based reading program encourages Pre-K to 12th grade students to avoid summer learning loss by reading for 24 hours during the summer months.
"Reading with the Rays has grown to become a pillar of our community engagement efforts," Rays President Brian Auld said. "We are proud to be joined once again by our partners at Suncoast Credit Union and the library systems in nine counties to help deliver this program to more children than ever. Our mission is to energize our community through the magic of Rays Baseball, and during the last 10 years, we have helped more than 250,000 children experience that magic by reading with the Rays."
Last week, Longoria promoted the program by reading to children at Campbell Park Elementary. As the spokesperson for the Reading with the Rays program the last five years, Longoria visits two participating libraries each year, spending time reading several books, discussing the importance of reading, asking trivia questions and handing out prizes to attendees. Longoria is scheduled to visit a Manatee County library on June 9 and a Hillsborough County library on July 24.
"We are thrilled to welcome Evan back," said Library Services Manager for Manatee County Ava Ehde. "Last year, he created a great deal of enthusiasm among attendees, resulting in more than 1,000 children who stayed after the event to sign up for the program."
The program officially begins this Sunday, May 21 with the inclusion of the Reading with the Rays insert in the Sunday Edition of the Tampa Bay Times. Kids can now pick up their Reading with the Rays game card at a participating library to begin reading around the bases. Participating libraries track students' progress and award prizes for reaching certain goals, including two free tickets to a Rays game. Reading with the Rays is made possible with the help of the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education and public library systems in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Citrus, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota and Charlotte counties.
"Reading with the Rays complements our mission of promoting the education, health and emotional well-being of children in our community," said Executive Director of the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation Cindy Helton. "Last year alone, this program inspired more than 30,000 kids across nine counties to spend about 215,000 hours of their summers reading. We believe that through reading, children are empowered in school and beyond."
For more information about the program, visit raysbaseball.com/reading.