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Blitz Underway to Boost Reading Proficiency in Milwaukee Area

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Mike Wright, Flickr
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The United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County is trying foster a love for reading among more children in the region.

In a mix of sports metaphors, Tuesday's Reading Blitz represents a full-court press for organizations trying to improve reading skills among Milwaukee kids.

The day's effort, sponsored by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, is the culmination of a concerted effort to increase the number of volunteer reading tutors in the community.  Community engagement specialist Karissa Gretebeck says the effort is aimed particularly at the youngest readers.

"Up until the third grade, children are learning to read," she says.  "But beyond that, they're really reading to learn.  So it's very critical that we provide any support we can to get children reading by third grade."

Gretebeck says the goals of this one day - and long-term - effort are to help close the achievement gap, bring more students up to reading at or above grade level, and even to increase the number of books children have at home.

The Reading Blitz wraps up with a late afternoon event at the Central branch of the Milwaukee Public Library, featuring Arthur books author Marc Brown.  The event marks the success of the United Way's Reader, Tutor, Mentor program, which has brought together more than 4,800 volunteers, agency partners, and schools.

Children in attendance will leave with one more book to add to their personal library.

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