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Come Aboard the Reading Promise sign at Tasker-Morris station. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/Al Día News
'Come Aboard the Reading Promise' sign at Tasker-Morris station. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/Al Día News

Come Aboard the Reading Promise

Decorating SEPTA with reading material is the latest push from organizations in the city to increase early literacy.

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SEPTA has launched an early literacy campaign, Come Aboard the Reading Promise. 

As part of this new campaign launch, the Tasker-Morris and Erie Stations on the Broad Street Line subway have been decorated with colorful posters featuring lessons, questions, I Spy, book recommendations, and riddles. Machines that print out short stories from local children are situated in the stations for commuters to grab a story before hopping on the train. 

Reading material also adorns two subway cars, 36 buses, and 95 bus shelters. Subway and rail signs have been decorated, as well. 

They also feature portraits of actual children involved in the program. One of the children is eight-year-old Asil Greer who spoke at the launch along with his mom, Mecca. He read a quote from the book he wrote entitled, “I Can Read So I Can Lead.” 

“[Mathor] Tiffany said ‘Asil, I think it’s time to tell them my favorite number. Can anyone take a guess? It’s before nine and after seven.’ The class screams eight. Asil says ‘Correct. We have eight parts of speech. There are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Promise said ‘Wow, today was a fun lesson. Johnny says ‘Asil, I hope you and your superpower never leave.’ Asil said, ‘Johnny, Brielle, Layla, Promise, and Selene you are just like me. All you have to say is “I can read so I can lead.’”

In addition to the Greers, speeches were given by Mayor Jim Kenney; Carolotta Stafford of South Philly Reading Captains; Kelly Richards of the Free Library of Philadelphia; Leslie S. Richards, CEO and General Manager of SEPTA; and Dr. Janet Haas of The William Penn Foundation. It was also attended by 2nd and 3rd graders from Inquiry Charter School. 

In her speech on SEPTA’s partnership with the Reading Promise, Leslie Richards talked about ways SEPTA is helping families. The first is by waiving the fee for children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult. The other way is by giving adults one free transfer so that parents can drop their children off at daycare before getting back on to go to work.

One of the other collaborators for this initiative is Read by 4th, an early literacy campaign managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia. Read by 4th  was launched in 2015 to increase the number of kids who are reading at grade level by the time they enter 4th grade. 

This goal was decided on because studies have shown that this sets children up for more success later in life. Right now, only about ⅓ of children read at grade level in Philadelphia

Reading Captains, like Stafford and Greer, are part of the Read By 4th campaign. Reading Captains exist all over the city and are volunteers from the communities that encourage families to read to their children and provide them with resources to help with early literacy.

Come Aboard the Reading Promise runs until July 24.

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