John Starks came to the Wednesday morning with elected Norwalk officials and Cablevision representatives to read Spike Lee's newest joint, Giant Steps to Change the World with a room full local kids.
Each child in attendance got a copy of the book to take home, and many prizes were given out following the story. Some lucky kids also got to join Starks at the front of the room and read the book next to him, Mayor Richard Moccia and Senator Bob Duff.
"Really encouraging them to read is a big part of what the Knicks and Cablevision are trying to promote throughout their community," Starks said of the program. "We have athletes like myself to go out an encourage children in our communities. With everything you do in life, you have to understand and comprehend what you read. Reading is a huge part of my success, too, not just bouncing a basketball."
For Cablevision Vice President of Education Trent Anderson, the hope for the program is to kickstart kids desire to read and shake up some of that stagnation that can come with lazy summers.
"[Cablevision and the NBA] started working together back then on promoting reading both in classrooms and in public libraries during the summer," Anderson said. "We reach out to communities who could benefit from an inspiring event to try and get the kids actively reading. Kids who don't read in the summer can lose half-a-grade level of progress."
Moccia said he was proud of all the Norwalk kids who had the courage to step up in front of their peers and take some time to read with a group.
"It's not easy to read some of that, and it's even tougher to do it in front of a group of people," Moccia said. "But John's been with the program for a couple of years, and he really knew how to put the kids at ease and make them feel comfortable. Getting to meet the parents who care and have the chance to bring their kids out to something like this, it's the best part of the job."
The senator, who brought his own young son along for the reading session, was excited to have someone of Starks' caliber reinforcing positive values in the kids that attended the event.
"This crowd was excellent for late August," Duff said. "To have someone like Starks visit, someone who had such a successful career and then take time out of his busy schedule to come give something like this back to his community, reinforcing good reading habits and making sure, even though it's summer, kids aren't taking their eye off the ball, is really great. And all these kids did such a great job."