WNBA Players Preach Reading Benefits
By John Gardella

Jakira Davis may only be eight years old, but the second-grader already knows what she wants to be and how to achieve here goal. "I like to read books and when I grow up I'm going to be a teacher," she said.

That's why the Orlando native was chosen to lead nearly 40 of her peers, parents and a contingent of WNBA representatives, including WNBA President Val Ackerman, rookie All-Star Jackie Stiles of the Portland Fire, the Orlando Miracle's Carla McGhee and the Los Angeles Sparks' DeLisha Milton in pledging to preach the benefits of reading.
Miracle guard Adrienne Johnson and WNBA President Val Ackerman read to a group of children. (WNBA Photos)
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With right hands raised, the crowd, many sitting on basketball beanbags, pledged: "I will listen to my teacher to learn good reading rules. I will read every day and imagine stories that will take me away. So now I pledge to do all of the above and will tell everyone that I love reading."

The eager readers were on hand for the official launch of the WNBA Read to Achieve program presented by American Express on Sunday at the WNBA Summer Jam. The program is aimed at promoting the value of reading and online literacy to families and children.

"It's a major effort that both leagues are joining together on with the goal of trying to get kids to read and get parents to read to their children," Ackerman said. "I have two daughters and I can't tell you how much fun it is to read to my kids and to watch them learn."

After American Express made a donation of 1,000 books to the Montsho Foundation, an Orlando area non-profit group that was recently established to provide starter libraries for disadvantaged child-care centers in Orlando neighborhoods, the children were treated to readings of two children's books.

While Ackerman, Stiles and McGhee teamed to read Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Carolyn Binch to half of the eager participants, Milton and Gena Casciano, Director of Sponsorship Marketing for American Express, read The Pocket Dogs by Margaret Wild and Stephen Michael King to the other children.

"Reading will open up so many doors," said Milton, who serves as the program's official spokesperson, "and it is something that is so colorful that it can really show you how to be whatever you want to be."


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