Nashville Predators' goalie Pekka Rinne joined Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Nashville Sounds mascot Ozzie at the downtown public library Saturday to kick off the “Share a Book” campaign.
The summer reading program is a citywide initiative aimed at inspiring adults and children to read more often.
The goal, according to Mayor Dean, is to get more families to read to their children, increase adult literacy and promote the Nashville Public Library System.
“We want to have people become lifelong readers, love reading, love learning, so that's the message, it's that simple, is to read,” Dean said, adding, “One of things that really strikes me is that kids who come from families where parents, grandparents, family and friends take time to read to them before they start school, starting almost at birth, really gives them a leg up when they start school.”
While Rinne was on hand to meet with kids and sign autographs, the campaign is also personal for him.
“It's the bottom line, it makes everything so much easier and I know how that feels coming over from Finland,” he said. “Reading has helped me a lot with my language. Obviously English language is not my native one.”
Mayor Dean also hopes the program inspires adults, who may have trouble reading, to get help.
He said, “We want people to understand that if they're adults who can't read, or they have problems reading, we have organizations in Nashville who are here and ready to help, and we would encourage people to sign up.”
Rinne added, “If there's one or two kids that gets inspired or gets influenced by me, that's more than I could ask for and that would be great.”
Kids who attended Saturday's kickoff even had a chance to sign up for the summer reading club.
Read more about the Share a Book campaign at Nashville.gov.