The Indiana National Guard is partnering with the Indiana Department of Education today to launch the statewide “Books and Boots” initiative, designed to encourage elementary students to read. Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick will join Indy Fuel hockey team mascot Nitro as the program's first celebrity readers.

November 16, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — Gerry Dick, host of Inside INdiana Business, will join the Indiana National Guard and Indiana Department of Education to encourage elementary students to read during the kickoff of the Books and Boots literacy initiative on Monday, Nov. 17 at Joyce Kilmer Academy.

According to literacy statistics from WriteExpress Corporation, kids who do not read proficiently by the fourth grade are four times likelier to drop out of school. The Books and Boots program is designed to motivate elementary-aged students to read and to ensure they are reading by third grade. The literacy program allows active-duty members of the Indiana National Guard and civic and community leaders to visit 30 elementary schools around Indiana to read to students regularly. Dick and Indy Fuel hockey team mascot, Nitro, will be the first celebrity readers.

“Early childhood development and literacy go hand-in-hand,” said Indiana National Guard Sgt. Maj. Rick Weber, who is lead facilitator of the Books and Boots initiative. “It's important for children and their families to understand the importance of reading. The Books and Boots initiative allows Guardsmen to re-invest in their local communities by providing youth mentorship, while serving their state and country. The Indiana National Guard believes that a strong state and nation begins with a well-educated, connected and invested community.”

Indiana National Guard has also partnered with Scholastic Reading Club. After each reading session, the students will be provided with a copy of the book that was read to them with the purpose of helping build in-home libraries and encouraging reading at home.

“We are truly grateful for the support of the Indiana National Guard and this vitally important reading initiative,” said K. Walker-Guess, principal of IPS' Joyce Kilmer Academy. “This volunteer-driven program complements the emphasis our administrators and teacher place on reading and the benefits of reading long after they venture outside these school walls.”

Elementary schools around the state have already committed to participate in the Books and Boots program. Evansville, Terre Haute, Lafayette, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Gary will welcome the Indiana National Guard and local community leaders to read to the students throughout 2015.

During peace time, the Indiana Guard is commanded by the governor. In its “state” role, the Indiana National Guard assists the Indiana Department of Homeland Security during emergencies, at the direction of the governor. Distribution of Soldiers, Airmen, equipment and facilities throughout the state allows the Indiana National Guard to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies statewide.

Source: Indiana National Guard

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