Read to Reef Book Club Returns for Spring Season

The National Aquarium and Enoch Pratt partner to offer tickets the the Aquarium for young readers

The National Aquarium and Enoch Pratt Free Library are once again teaming up to offer Baltimore students and their families the opportunity to read their way to the Aquarium. March 1 marks the return of Read to Reef, an award-winning program that connects Baltimore students' love of reading with the wonders of the world's aquatic treasures.

Beginning March 1, 2023, Baltimore City students aged grade five and younger with a valid Enoch Pratt Free Library card can visit their neighborhood library branch to receive a special Read to Reef bookmark while supplies last. After reading any five aquatic- or conservation-themed books, readers can redeem their bookmark to receive free Aquarium admission for up to four guests through June 18, 2023.

The spring 2023 Read to Reef booklist includes titles suitable for children of all reading levels—from children who have not yet learned to read to older students looking to learn more about the wonders of our blue planet. The booklist was curated by Pratt librarians and National Aquarium educators and staff, with new ocean- and conservation-themed selections every season as well as returning favorites. This year's booklist includes "Expedition Backyard," a novel by Rosemary Mosco and illustrated by Aquarium graphic designer, Binglin Hu.

The National Aquarium will also be on hand at Pratt's Imagination Celebration event featuring programming for children ages five and under. The in-person event will take place on March 25 at the Pratt Central Library during Read to Reef bookmark distribution month.

"Reading can open a gateway to a world of possibilities for children and their families, and the Read to Reef book club is a great way for them to discover a love of learning about the ocean and environment," said National Aquarium Community Programs Manager Sarah Doccolo. "When a child learns about an animal or habitat in a Read to Reef book and then gets to see that animal at the National Aquarium, they learn to care for and protect those animals and habitats. We are proud to partner with Enoch Pratt Free Library to offer Baltimore students the chance to experience this full-circle moment for themselves."

"We are thrilled to, once again, partner with the National Aquarium to bring the Read to Reef book club to our youngest readers," said Enoch Pratt Free Library President & CEO Heidi Daniel. "We truly see the impact this program is having, inspiring children to become passionate about our planet and conservation and creating a lifelong love of learning."

According to parents of previous Read to Reef participants:

"As a parent, I really enjoy the educational element that is fostered. I read with or log the kids' stories and use those facts or themes in relation to what is on display during the aquarium visit to add to the text to life experience. I believe this program is helping to form a young marine scientist in my home."

"It's a wonderful program that highlights two of Baltimore's great institutions: the National Aquarium and the Enoch Pratt Free Library."

"Thank you for offering this. My kids look forward to it, and we wouldn't be able to afford aquarium tickets for our family otherwise."

Since the program's inception in 2016, 16,258 Baltimore-area students have read more than 82,100 books. Each of these students earned a free trip to explore the Aquarium with their families, totaling 59,103 tickets.

In addition to Read to Reef, the National Aquarium offers these additional community programs that invite locals to visit for less:

Maryland Mornings

Maryland residents can visit the Aquarium before noon Monday through Friday year-round for a reduced price. You must purchase tickets for Maryland Mornings on-site at the Aquarium. Reference Maryland Mornings at the ticket window and show proof of residency to receive $10 off regular ticket price for adults (ages 21-69), and $5 off regular ticket price for youth (ages 5-20) and seniors (ages 70+). Cannot be combined with any other offers. Blackout dates apply.

Half-Price Friday Nights

As always, admission is half-price every Friday after 5 pm through Half-Price Friday Nights, presented by M&T Bank.

School Shell-abration Event

The National Aquarium recognizes sea star students and their scholarly successes during the school year with its School Shell-ebration event–a free evening for local students and their families.

In a typical year, the Aquarium welcomes 100,000 guests for free or reduced admission through these community programs, sharing educational and enjoyable experiences with local and state residents.

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