Read City million-hour challenge is underway

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Youth

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and the Read City Band took the stage at the Bijou Theatre this week to kick off the 2023 Read City one-million-hour challenge!

Joining him onstage were dancers from Go! Contemporary Danceworks, and New York Times bestselling illustrator Daniel Wiseman.  There was even a video message from Zak Brown Band’s Coy Bowles cheering us on.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs kicks off 2023 Read City program.

The Read City band was made up of students from UT’s Jazz Program under the direction of Keith Brown. WBIR’s Robin Wilhoit was master of ceremonies.

Celebrating five years of the mayor’s reading challenge, this year’s program is pulling out all the stops with music as the theme: All Together Now!

Groups from Emerald Youth, Centro Hispano, Salvation Army’s Homework Club and many others were geared up to start reading in the first of several challenges throughout the year. From now until April 8, participants of all ages are encouraged to read for a total of 36 hours, or about 30 minutes each day. Finishers will earn a prize from the library.

Mayor Jacobs started Read City with the Knox County Public Library in 2018 to engage and empower parents, caregivers, businesses and organizations to ensure that all children develop a love of reading and learning. The program supports Knox County Schools as it works to improve the overall reading rate. Currently, only 40% of children in the third grade are reading on grade level. Learning to read well requires a community-wide solution with exposure to books and reading in the home being a critical component.

To join the challenge, go to for more information.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library

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