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'Fast Break for Reading' Youth-Literacy Campaign Launched

The International Reading Association (IRA) and American Basketball Association (ABA) launched a new youth-reading initiative this week called "Fast Break for Reading," design to encourage students to read at least 10 minutes per day.

The campaign, which began on Monday, runs through the end of the ABA season, which wraps up on March 10, 2013, according to a spokesperson from the IRA.

Between now and then, the campaign hopes to generate at least 1 million minutes of reading.

What's in it for the kids (besides, you know, nurturing their love of literature)? Each student who actually reads 10 minutes per day throughout the campaign will receive a certificate of participation, a ticket to an ABA game of his or her choice, and a chance to win a trip to one ABA finals game.

The top reader at each school will also receive an "Outstanding Achievement Award," according to the rules of the campaign.

"IRA is very pleased to be partnering with the ABA," Stephen Sye, the IRA's senior marketing manager, said in a statement. "Like us, the ABA is concerned about literacy in the U.S. and is joining with us to make a significant difference in the reading habits of young people."

To participate, teachers visit the campaign's website and download monthly reading logs for their students. At the end of each month, teachers collect their students' logs, distribute certificates of participation for any student who read 10 minutes per night that month, and submit the tally of students and reading hours to the campaign's website. (The certificates of participation are free to download from the campaign's website, too.)

The student who reads the most total minutes and is taught by the teacher who accumulates the most total minutes nationally for the program will receive the grand prize: round-trip airfare and one night's hotel lodging for the student and two chaperones so they can attend an ABA finals game.

"We can think of nothing more important for young people than to acquire good reading skills, as this can be a life changer," said Joe Newman, the chief executive officer of the ABA, in a statement.

Teachers have incentive to participate, too. Teachers who sign up for the program are also eligible for the grand prize, and they will all receive a free common-core standards implementation guide from the IRA. (For more on the common core, by the way, you can also check out EdWeek's new special report, "Rethinking Literacy: Reading in the Common-Core Era.")

Two other components of the IRA/ABA program worth addressing quickly:

• The campaign is searching for Teacher Liaisons (volunteers) to help the 90 ABA teams work more closely with local schools. Teachers who volunteer would help coordinate book donations at ABA games and schedule ABA activities with youths, such as reading clinics or basketball clinics. As a reward for participation, teacher liaisons will receive both a team jersey and team credentials that allow them into any ABA designated team game.

• In conjunction with the "Fast Break for Reading" campaign, the IRA and ABA are launching the "Buckets & Books" program. Anyone who donates a book at an ABA game will receive 50 percent off the general admission price. The books collected at ABA games will be donated to local school reading programs.

A lighter books-and-basketball note: Last night, the National Book Awards were announced, and @NationalBook was tweeting out the winners with the hashtag #nbawards12. Some Twitter users decided to shorten that hashtag to plain old #NBA.

The only problem is... the National Basketball Association just so happens to have the #NBA hashtag pretty well claimed at this point. Their Twitter handle is also @NBA.

The lesson? Remember to check your hashtags before tweeting, just to make sure you're not unintentionally contributing to a vastly different discussion than the one you intended to.

(H/T to BookMarks blogger Amy Wickner for the National Basketball Association/National Book Awards information.)

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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