TEGNA-owned WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) has announced a new initiative to get families reading: 13 Reads!

Children from families who read and have books in the home have more success in life than those who don’t. Reading early affects their whole lives. We are asking parents and grandparents to read to their children and encourage them to read on their own, so they have a better shot at success.

“Family literacy is an issue I’m passionate about. A child who is unable to read is infinitely more likely to drop out of school, end up in jail or on welfare,” said Catherine Behrendt, Director of Community and Local Programming at the station. “It is in our community’s best interest to tackle this issue together and give children and families the adventure-filled lives that books create.”

WZZM (13 ON YOUR SIDE) will put the spotlight on literacy issues around West Michigan, create awareness through multi-platform campaigns with station talent and celebrities to encourage reading, and target specific causes that will make an impact on children’s lives.

“13 Reads is another reinforcement of 13 ON YOUR SIDE’s commitment to West Michigan and the positive impact we strive for daily,” said Dan Baylog, President and General Manager of 13 ON YOUR SIDE. “The data our staff reviewed tying reading at a young age to future success motivated us to launch this formalized initiative, and I’m proud of the effort our team, our contributors, and our partner Independent Bank have put in to get this campaign started.”

Independent Bank saw the value of this initiative to the community and partnered with the station to sponsor the message of 13 Reads—amplifying it even more.

Book drives, book deserts, the ‘summer slide’—these are all issues 13 Reads focuses on in key West Michigan communities.

Kicking off the initiative, WZZM is donating to Kent District Library to purchase Booster Packs which help reinforce the five main aspects of reading improvement for grades K-5: comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics and vocabulary.

The station is also joining forces with Disney and ABC’s Magic of Storytelling Campaign by encouraging people to post “shelfies”—photos of themselves with a favorite book or a bookshelf—and tag it with #MagicofStorytelling and #13Reads. For every tagged photo, Disney will donate a new book to the non-profit organization, First Book. WZZM will then receive over 1,500 books from First Book to distribute to key areas of West Michigan.

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