Washington Nationals To Launch ‘Summer Reading Sundays’

Literacy program features stories from MLB player ambassadors Josh Bell and Sean Doolittle before select home games.
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Nats first baseman Josh Bell is a player ambassador for the team’s new Summer Reading Sundays series. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club)

As the school year winds down, parents across the region are looking for ways to ward off the learning loss known as “summer slide.” The Washington Nationals want to help.

On Sunday, May 29, the team will host the first of its Summer Reading Sundays, a literacy series that runs before select home games. Once monthly now through August, Nats players Josh Bell and Sean Doolittle will serve as “player ambassadors” and lead read-alouds shortly before the first pitch. Area libraries and other organizations will provide additional programming.

“I’m fortunate to have had people in my life, like my mom, grandmother, aunt and sister, who helped show me the joy of reading at an early age,” Bell said in a press release. The first baseman also led a book club last year that focused on personal growth. “Reading is for everybody—whether you’re a student or a professional athlete—and I’m excited to help share with children in our community why it’s so important.”

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In 2019, relief pitcher Sean Doolittle donated a signed, game-worn glove to a One More Page Books auction. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club)

Summer Reading Sundays are a new component of The Team That Reads, a Nationals initiative that targets the learning loss many children experience during the months-long break from school. The Team That Reads program also includes a Nats-approved reading list and an online Summer Slugger learning platform promoted by MLB teams nationwide.

“We all know that summers are great for coming out to the ballpark, but it’s also a great time to get lost in a good book,” says relief pitcher Doolittle, who supported One More Page Books in 2019 with the donation of an autographed glove. “I’m looking forward to helping students in our area stay at the top of their reading game while showing them how enjoyable and fun it can be.”

Summer Reading Sundays incorporate programming provided by several area organizations, including Arlington Public Library, DC Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Children’s Museum. The summer reading program at the Arlington Public Library starts June 1.

Summer Reading Sundays run May 29, June 12, July 17 and Aug. 14 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in the Kennedy conference room on the club level at Nationals Park. Participation is free and open to ticket holders for that day’s game. Doolittle will be reading at the May 29 program prior to the 1:35 p.m. game vs. the Colorado Rockies, and participants may take home up to three free books.

Categories: Education