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Readers succeed at River City Readers Challenge
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Readers succeed at River City Readers Challenge

  • PublishedJune 9, 2024



“I wanted to keep them reading, I wanted to keep them focused and anything that would help them continue that education while school is out,” a local parent said.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Less than half of third graders in Jacksonville are reading on grade level, according to city reports, but Mayor Donna Deegan is tackling low literacy rates through the River City Readers Challenge, a year-long initiative that could win your child some prizes.

The goal of the challenge is to improve literacy rates across the city and multiple free events have been held throughout the year, including one on Saturday, where families received free backpacks, free books and free resources to improve their child’s reading.

“The best thing I got was some coloring books, word search and some books,” Payton Harmon, who is on summer break, said.

Payton Harmon is one of hundreds of Jacksonville readers signed up for the River City Readers Challenge.

“I wanted to keep them reading, I wanted to keep them focused and anything that would help them continue that education while school is out,” Jessica Harmon, a Jacksonville Mom, said.

But its not just young readers, Zoey Lockhart is not even 10 years old but she is already an co-author of a book that encourages children using scriptures from the Bible to get up in the morning.

“Me and my mom wrote this book because I didn’t like getting up in the morning,” Zoey Lockhart, co-author of “God Really Needs You Today,” said.

Children are logging their reading minutes in a free app called Beanstack and competing for prizes. 

Deegan started the initiative in January, challenging readers to complete 20 minutes a day, with the goal of logging over one million minutes of reading. 

In March, more than 600 readers were registered for the app, and over 5,700 hours had been logged. Flash forward to June, and 840 readers are signed up with more than 1 million minutes logged, according to a city dashboard that shows progress from registered users.

At an event Sunday, Deegan congratulated the community on surpassing the one million goal.

“These kids are so competitive, they want to be the ones who win these prizes at the end of the year and so they’re just reading like crazy and the good news for all of us is, I think they’re realizing how fun reading is and that’s going to make them life long readers,” Deegan said.

City officials say, at the end of the year readers with the most minutes logged will get a prize.



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johndweiner@gmail.com

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