National Aquarium, Enoch Pratt Free Library Celebrate Return of Read to Reef

Baltimore children 'discover new depths' as the Read to Reef book club returns this fall

The National Aquarium, in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Free Library, is proud to announce the return of the Read to Reef book club for its Fall 2023 season. The award-winning program connects Baltimore children's love of reading with the wonders of the aquatic world.

From October 1 through October 31, families of Baltimore-area children in fifth grade and younger can visit any Enoch Pratt Free Library location to get a Read to Reef bookmark using their library card while supplies last. After reading any five aquatic- or conservation-themed books—including books recommended on the Read to Reef booklist—the reader's family can visit the Aquarium's website and enter the code on their bookmark to make a reservation for free admission for up to four guests through January 15, 2024.

This season's Read to Reef booklist, curated by librarians and Aquarium educators, includes titles suitable for children of all reading levels—from children who have not yet learned to read to older students looking to dive deeper into the fascinating depths of our blue planet. From works that children can read by themselves to books that families can enjoy together, there is something for everyone on this season's list.

Participants of this year's Read to Reef book club will also have an opportunity to meet one of this year's esteemed authors, Stephen Bramucci, during an event to celebrate the release of "Race for the Ruby Turtle," a heartfelt eco-adventure story brimming with themes of friendship and self-discovery. The program will be held at Enoch Pratt's Govan's Branch on Monday, October 16, at 3 p.m. The program will also include a presentation from the Aquarium's Rehabilitation Manager, Caitlin Bovery, who will speak about the Aquarium's turtle rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

"We are excited to welcome back the Read to Reef book club this fall," said National Aquarium Community Programs Manager Sarah Doccolo. "This program isn't just about reading; it's about sparking a sense of wonder in kids and their families. When families pick up a Read to Reef bookmark at the library and dive into aquatic adventures, they're not just earning a trip to the National Aquarium but embarking on a journey of discovery together. It's a chance to create lasting memories, inspire curiosity and nurture a love for our aquatic world through reading."

With roughly 90,000 books read since the program's launch in 2016, more than 16,000 Baltimore-area young readers and their families have visited the National Aquarium free of charge thanks to their participation in the Read to Reef book club.

"The Enoch Pratt Free Library and National Aquarium share the goal of instilling a love of learning in young people. Read to Reef is a great partnership of our two Baltimore institutions," shared Heidi Daniel, CEO and president of Enoch Pratt Free Library. "Children can come to the library and learn about our oceans and conservation. Then, they can see those lessons in action at a world-class institution right down the street and share it with their families. This program is a big win for Baltimore."

Quotes from Past Read to Reef Participants/Families (2023):

"As a parent, I really enjoy the educational element that is fostered. I read with or log the kid's 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."

"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."

"Great program and much appreciated! Thank you for providing wholesome incentives for healthy reading and encouraging concern and appreciation for the wonderful, beautiful world around us."

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