On Monday, May 2, nearly 150 business professionals left the office and entered the classroom to support early childhood literacy at the Chamber’s 7th annual Read to Me Early Literacy Storyteller Event, presented in partnership with Bank of America and the School District of Philadelphia. Storytellers spent the morning reading to over 3,500 pre-k and kindergarten students at 29 schools throughout the School District of Philadelphia. The event was kicked off with a networking breakfast held at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Storytellers included Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; Bill Hankowsky, Chairman, President & CEO, Liberty Property Trust, and GPCC Board Chairman; Dr. Arlene Ackerman, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia; and Thomas Woodward, Pennsylvania President, Bank of America.

The event served as the public kick-off of the annual Read to Me Early Literacy Program, a year-long initiative that provides quality classroom book collection to thousands of pre-k and kindergarten students and inspires them to read with their parents, caregivers and teachers throughout the school year. Developed by Lynn Rosenthal, an award winning reading specialist in Philadelphia city schools for more than 30 years, the program also provides teacher orientations that train educators on how to effectively bring the program into their classrooms, and parent workshops that encourage caregivers to read aloud to their children at home.

Over the past seven years, the Read to Me Early Literacy Storyteller Event and the Read to Me Early Literacy Program have grown to include more storytellers, students and schools. When the program was started in 2004, 46 readers participated by reading to 1,130 pre-k and kindergarten students at eight schools throughout the School District of Philadelphia. Now at 3,500 students and 29 schools, the nearly 150 storytellers read to approximately 17 percent of the District’s student population this year.

Click here to view photos from the event.