The Race to One Million Books | Community Partners Encourage Reading during Citywide Reading Challenge

A city that reads together grows together. That’s the purpose behind the Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge.

The goal is for the entire city to collectively read one million books and/or one million minutes in 2023. We’re encouraging all city residents to sign up online at and to use the website throughout 2023 to log their books and the minutes they spend reading. Readers will win fabulous prizes and a lifetime of positive results.

Registration is now open for the Cleveland Reads Kickoff Celebration on Saturday, December 17 from noon – 3 p.m. at Public Auditorium, 500 Lakeside Avenue East in downtown Cleveland. Everyone is invited for FREE books, reading resources, entertainment, fun family activities, and more!

Transportation to Public Auditorium will be provided to and from five Cleveland Public Library locations: Carnegie West, Glenville, Hough, Rice, and Rockport. Buses will depart from the branches at 11:30 a.m. and return all riders to their pickup location by 3:30 p.m.

Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb

“Reading is a passion of mine and it’s helped guide me through various stages of life. Books have influenced me emotionally, spiritually, and professionally and I hope Cleveland Reads brings that same love to all Clevelanders,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “Boosting literacy is one way to improve outcomes in our community – from academic success to workforce development.”

The Mayor’s Office, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Teachers Union, Cleveland Metropolitan School District and nearly 30 community organizations are working together to encourage reading and boost literacy levels in the city. According to a 2009 study by Case Western Reserve University, 69% of adults read at or below the 7th-grade level. A 2018 Seeds of Literacy study found 66% of Cleveland adults are functionally illiterate.

“Cleveland Public Library is excited to work with the Mayor’s Office on the Cleveland Reads challenge,” remarks Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library. “Literacy is the cornerstone of every library and the foundation to everything that we do. Every book is an opportunity to explore new ideas and open doors for discovery.”

In partnership with Euclid Public Library, the Cleveland Reads Kickoff Celebration will feature a live reading and book signing by children’s author Kelly Starling Lyons who wrote the Ty’s Travels series, Tiara’s Hat Parade, and Going Down Home with Daddy. Twinsburg’s own, 8-year-old Lil Dee, who created Our Brown Boy Joy to combat racial tension and drive positive social change, will also be there to inspire children.


A group of teachers holding up books for giveaway. Mounds of books spread throughout gymnasium
AFT distributes 40,000 books to students in Ohio

Families can pick up FREE books and other cool swag at the Cleveland Reads Kickoff Celebration. We’re distributing 40,000 books generously provided by the Cleveland Teachers Union and the American Federation of Teachers. There’s also a chance to win a Nintendo Switch with a one-year game subscription, Beats wireless earbuds, Southwest Airlines gift cards, and other prizes.

“There’s a lesson in every story and we’re bringing 40,000 of them to the city of Cleveland. We’re proud to help families build their libraries through the Cleveland Reads challenge,” adds Shari Obrenski, President of the Cleveland Teachers Union.

And no event is complete without entertainment. Families will enjoy performances by the John Marshall School Band, Cleveland Federation of Musicians Local 4, local cheer teams, and DJ Phatty Banks.


We want our readers to stay healthy in 2023. In partnership with the Cleveland Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), the RTA Community Immunity Bus will stop at Public Auditorium for the Cleveland Reads Kickoff Celebration. CDPH medical staff will provide free Pfizer and Moderna vaccination and booster shots to adults and children. A parent or legal guardian must accompany anyone younger than 18 to receive the vaccine or booster shot.

“We hope residents take advantage of this no-cost, convenient opportunity to protect themselves and loved ones against COVID-19,” said Natoya Walker-Minor, Deputy General Manager of External Affairs and Administration for GCRTA.  

In addition to the RTA Community Immunity Bus, RTA will have four buses wrapped with messages supporting the Cleveland Reads Challenge rolling around the city.


Become a supporter of the Cleveland Reads challenge. We’re seeking financial and in-kind donors to help amplify this important community initiative. Whatever you give, however you give, your generosity makes a difference in the neighborhoods that we serve. Interested supporters should contact Gio Gravino at (216) 902-4925 or email

Visit or for information about the Cleveland Reads Citywide Reading Challenge.