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Patriots Tight End and Children’s Book Author Martellus Bennett visits Read to a Child’s Lunchtime Reading Program at Boston’s Tobin School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Boston Education Chief Rahn Dorsey and Read to a Child CEO Paul Lamoureux Participate to Highlight Partnerships Designed to Help Close the Literacy Gap

ROXBURY, MA - NOVEMBER 15: Patriots Tight End and Children's Book Author Martellus Bennett visits Read to a Child's Lunchtime Reading Program at Boston Public Schools' Tobin K-8 and reads his new book "Hey A.J., It's Saturday!" to first and second graders on November 15, 2016 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)    ROXBURY, MA - NOVEMBER 15: Patriots Tight End and Children's Book Author Martellus Bennett visits Read to a Child's Lunchtime Reading Program at Boston Public Schools' Tobin K-8 and reads his new book "Hey A.J., It's Saturday!" to first and second graders on November 15, 2016 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Photo link: http://www.gettyimages.com/search/events/682195405
Photo credit: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Boston, MA, November 15, 2016 – National non-profit literacy and mentoring organization Read to a Child®, The Imagination Agency and Boston Public Schools announced that Martellus Bennett read his children’s book “Hey A.J. It’s Saturday!” to children today in Read to a Child’s Lunchtime Reading Program at the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School. New England Patriots star tight end, children’s book author and founder of The Imagination Agency, Martellus was joined by Boston Chief of Education Rahn Dorsey, Read to a Child CEO Paul Lamoureux and Boston Public Schools leaders to highlight the importance of mentoring partnerships that boost literacy skills and self-confidence in urban public school students.

The Maurice J. Tobin School is one of 17 public elementary schools in greater Boston where Read to a Child operates its Lunchtime Reading Program. Read to a Child enlists and manages a force of 1,500 corporate volunteers from more than 100 organizations that visit urban elementary schools once a week and read aloud one-on-one to children during lunch. This time spent with a caring adult ignites a love of reading in struggling children, while providing students with the skills and self-confidence to succeed in school and in life.

“It’s super awesome to have a chance to partner with Read to a Child and highlight the importance of reading,” said Martellus Bennett. “Not a day goes by that I don’t pick up a book and read a page of it for myself. (I am currently reading “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman.) Or let a night go by that my daughter, Jett, goes to bed without a bedtime story. (Tonight’s book is “Hey, That’s My Monster” by Amanda Noll.)” Continues Bennett, “Every kid in the world deserves a fantastic bedtime story read to them. Every kid deserves an adventure. Reading to child guarantees that they get to go on that great adventure.”

Two days from now, on November 17th, Martellus will also speak at Read to a Child’s annual gala, a “Jungle Book” – themed ‘Night in the Jungle’ at the Omni Parker House in Boston. Martellus will stress the importance of children’s literacy and will highlight his labor of love in writing his first children’s book inspired by his daughter. “I hope to see you in the jungle,” said Martellus. “I’ll be the guy next to Mowgli. Make sure you say What’s Up?!”

To get a chance to meet Martellus and hear his inspirational story directly, tickets (which must be purchased in advance) can be found here.

“I wrote the, ‘Hey A.J’ children’s book series to always be there for my daughter, even after I’m gone,” Bennett said. “As a father, I never want her to not have advice or food for thought from her father. Stories live on forever. This is a big part of my daddy legacy. The character AJ is based on my daughter, Jett, and the adventures my family has. I want my daughter and other kids of colors to be able to grow up with a character of color that focuses on imagination and adventures, not just their skin color or hair.”

“I applaud Martellus Bennett for highlighting the importance of being able to read well and Read to a Child for its innovative model of utilizing volunteers from area corporations to act as reading mentors in public schools,” said Boston Education Chief Rahn Dorsey. “Increasing literacy skills in our elementary school children is critical to improve their chances for success in school and life, and the mentoring experience is also so beneficial in boosting key socio-emotional skills like self-confidence among at-risk kids.”

“We are grateful to Read to a Child and CEO Paul Lamoureux and Martellus Bennett of the Patriots for investing in our children and furthering our work as a district,” said Superintendent Tommy Chang. “I look forward to seeing our students’ reading and writing skills continue to progress as they connect with and gain inspiration from non-fiction text and literature.”

“Alarmingly 80% of 4th graders from low-income families in the United States are not proficient readers and 2/3rds of these struggling readers will end up on welfare or in jail,” said Read to a Child CEO, Paul Lamoureux. “It is in the face of this societal crisis, that partnerships for improving literacy skills are crucial and I am deeply thankful to Martellus Bennett for helping raise awareness. Martellus is also such a great role model for kids and clearly shows how a love of reading and a creative imagination can spark wondrous accomplishments far beyond the playing field.”

“I deeply value our partnership with Read to a Child because I see the results of the dedicated mentors who come each week to read with our students,” said Efrain Toledano, Maurice J. Tobin K-8 Principal. “In addition to the mentoring relationships that develop, I see our students learning to love books. I believe strongly that developing a love of reading gives children an important tool to ensure that they are lifelong learners. Our partnership with Read to a Child is an important part of helping our students become lifelong readers and lifelong learners.”

About Read to a Child:
Read to a Child (www.readtoachild.org) is a national nonprofit literacy and mentoring organization that inspires caring adults to read aloud to at-risk children to create better opportunities for their future. Research proves that reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading and, thus, likelihood for success in school and life. Read to a Child currently partners with more than 100 corporations and institutions nationwide that provide 1,500 volunteers who read aloud to 1,200 at-risk elementary school students in greater Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles and Miami, as well as urban centers in Connecticut.

About Martellus Bennett:
Martellus grew up in Houston, Texas where from a young age he was a standout two-sport athlete destined for a future in athletics. He was a top draft prospect for both football and basketball and went on to play both sports at the NCAA Division 1 level for Texas A&M. Deciding to focus on football, Martellus was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He now plays tight end for the New England Patriots. In addition, as an author, artist and entrepreneur, Martellus Bennett is known not only for his presence as a playmaker on the football field, but also for his larger than life personality. With an impressive list of exceptional talents, both on and off the field, and enough charisma to charm his critics, Bennett has won the hearts of fans across the country. This bright young star has paved the way to a long, lasting and powerful career as a player, entertainer and businessman.

About the Book:
As a voracious reader, Martellus read every children’s book to his daughter. But he became acutely aware that none of the main characters looked like her, so he decided to write his own. Inspired by Bennett’s daughter, Jett, “Hey A.J. It’s Saturday!” is a children’s book in which A.J., the book’s protagonist, takes readers on a wild journey throughout her day as her imagination comes to life. She discovers that there is a wild and strange world just downstairs in her kitchen where a breakfast feast is being served by creatures and beasts. “Hey A.J. It’s Saturday!” is the first in the “Hey A.J.” book series and each book purchased is accompanied by a “Hey A.J.” app.

About The Imagination Agency:
Founded by Martellus Bennett, multimedia firm The Imagination Agency is a wondrous group of monsters and lost imaginary friends tasked with creating, drawing, writing and imagining fantastical adventures for kids all over the world. Be it by books, art, apps, games, cartoons, films or toys, The Imagination Agency entertains and delights by bringing stories to life from Martellus’ own imagination, and encourages kids to explore their own creative outlets. With a universe of characters to share with the world, all of whom have been like lifelong personal friends, Martellus and The Imagination Agency are excited to take you on adventures that no one else can.

About Boston Public Schools
The Boston Public Schools (BPS), the birthplace of public education in the United States, serves nearly 57,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 125 schools. BPS is committed to transforming the lives of all children through exemplary teaching in a world-class system of innovative, welcoming schools. We partner with the community, families, and students to develop in every learner the knowledge, skill, and character to excel in college, career, and life.

Media contacts:

For Read to a Child
Weber Shandwick, Colleen McCarthy, 617-520-7059, CMcCarthy@webershandwick.com

For Martellus Bennett
FYI Brand Communications, Christina LoDuca, 916-410-2182, christina@fyibrandcomm.com

For Boston Public Schools
Gabrielle Farrell, 617-368-0364,
gfarrell@bostonpublicschools.org