CINCINNATI — On Friday, May 10th, local bicyclists braved a chilly, misty morning to participate in the 7th annual Ride For Reading Cincinnati. The volunteer cyclists helped deliver 5,000 books to more than 400 students at South Avondale Elementary School. Each student chose 5 books to take home and call their own, with the remainder of the books donated to the school.
Created by a national organization based out of Nashville, Ride for Reading events take place all over the country, giving children books in an effort to reduce the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students. Each year, WordPlay partners with SPUN Bicycles for the Cincinnati event, which has delivered more than 12,000 books to local children since 2013.
“It’s incredible to see the community support that has grown over seven years for this event - the number of partners and individuals coming out to create a very special experience for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access to their own personal libraries,” WordPlay Executive Director Libby Hunter said.
Studies have shown that the presence of books in a home has a marked effect on children’s developing literacy; children who grow up in homes with at least 20 books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes. The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of low-income students is to increase their access to print. However, low-income children often lack books of their own, putting them at risk of falling behind in school. Ride For Reading addresses this need while also promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
This year, cyclists started the day at the Coffee Emporium warehouse on Walnut Street, where the thousands of donated books are stored. After loading up their bikes with books, they pedaled 5-6 miles to the school. South Avondale school principal Michael Allison joined them shortly before they arrived, leading the bike parade onto school grounds to be met with a crowd of cheering students. Volunteers were on hand to help unload the bikes and distribute books to the students.
“It just keeps growing year over year, and we owe that to everyone in the city who has gotten involved,” Hunter said.
Ride For Reading involves many local partnerships to make the event a success. This year’s partners included Coffee Emporium; Cincy Red Bike; Adopt-A-Book; Half Price Books; Cincy Book Bus; Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; U.S. Bank; Dollar General Literacy Foundation; J.L.L.; First Unitarian Church; MANE, Inc.; and the Blue Manatee Literacy Project.
The heartwarming event was covered by WCPO Channel 9 in a May 10, 2019 article here. For opportunities to get involved with outreach events like Ride For Reading, or to volunteer with other WordPlay programs, visit www.wordplaycincy.org/volunteer.