By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and his wife Krystle took some time before Wednesday’s game to meet with thousands of students to talk about the importance of reading.

Krystle read a sample from their “Little Rhino” book series while Ryan, Cameron Rupp and a student volunteer acted out the scene.

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The Big Piece loved seeing all the little smiling faces.

“It’s awesome! It just validates everything that we’ve done as far as the book is concerned,” Howard said. “It’s really exciting and it’s really cool for us to see how excited everybody else is.”

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Howard drove home the point that reading is important, and these 4th graders heard every word.

“When you grow up and you want to teach your kids how to read, you already know how to read, and they will learn how to read like you.”

“You need know how to read to do stuff, so reading is important so that you know what to do in life.”

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Students received a “Little Rhino” t-shirt and a portion of the ticket sales will benefit the MLB Urban Youth Academy.