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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Smith, WNBA promote child literacy





“You just want them to have an opportunity to have as much success in their lives,” says WNBA player Katie Smith of the importance of reading for children.

By JOSE PATINO GIRONA

April 8, 2008

TAMPA - It isn't every day that stretch limousines park outside the John F. Germany Public Library downtown.

Then again, it isn't every day that stars from the Women's National Basketball Association visit the library to read to students.

The players, along with corporate executives from the league and Pitney Bowes and Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, read Dr. Seuss' "Horton Hears a Who!" on Monday afternoon with nearly 80 students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.

The students hung on every word.

"It was cool," said Isiah Archer, who sat in a tight reading circle with league president Donna Orender and other students.

"Reading can help you learn a lot," said Isiah, 9, a fourth-grader at Just Elementary. "They read a lot. That is how they can read the playbooks and the strategies and score all those points."

The league and Pitney Bowes, a Connecticut-based company that provides technology for corporate and business mailing, announced Monday that they are working together to promote a national literacy program for school-age children.

The athletes said they think their time with the students can help them appreciate reading and turn it into a passion.

Katie Smith, a player with the Detroit Shock, said she hopes children can see that it is more than just homework.

"You just want them to have an opportunity to have as much success in their lives," said Smith, who has won a league championship and has been named to the All-Star team. "And it starts now and reading is the foundation."

Isiah said he likes to read about bugs and athletes, but he also enjoyed meeting the players and getting their autographs.

"I like watching basketball," the youngster said. "But something better than watching basketball on TV is meeting the players in real life."

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