Longoria hits the library to spread the importance of reading

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Baseball is supposedly America's pastime, and reading is said to be fundamental. If you combined the two, would reading be America's pastime, or would baseball be fundamental? Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays combined the two for school kids.

For the 7th year, the Rays are hosting their Reading with the Rays program to help keep kids interested in books after school has let out for the summer.

"I think that it’s important to really start that connection early to books, and get kids to read." Evan Longoria was at the St. Petersburg Main Library on Tuesday to read to the kids. Now, he can read the spin on a Major League pitch rather easily, but reading to, and in front of, kids is a different story. "The first time I did it I was really nervous, and now it's a great interactive experience."

“Having someone like Evan Longoria realizing the importance of literacy just further drives their expectation to achieve success. We show them how literacy leads to that success," says library director Mika Nelson.

Longo already is already showing his young daughter the fundamentals. In the Reading with the Rays program, if a child completes 24 hours of reading during the summer, they win prizes, including tickets to a Rays game.

Any athlete likes a win-win scenario. "Give it a positive vibe, and positive connotation and incentivize it. Allowing kids to come to the ballpark if they read is a win for all of us."

“Books are magic. Books take you different places. Books can take you all over the world, and we want to give all kids that experience," says Gary Vien of Suncoast Credit Union.

Books can take kids all over the world, and they can take kids to a Rays game, too.