PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of Philadelphia School District students receive free summer reading books.

Philadelphia District Superintendent William Hite describes a new initiative aimed at preventing the “Summer Reading Slide.”

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“We’re providing for all pre-K through 2nd grade a backpack, and that backpack is going to contain 10 books, and those books are for children to read over the summer,” Hite said.

William Hite reads to children to kickoff summer reading program. Photo credit: KYW's Hadas Kuznits.

William Hite reads to children to kickoff summer reading program. Photo credit: KYW’s Hadas Kuznits.

First graders at Lewis Elkin Elementary School say they loved receiving presents for the summer.

“I was like, wow! Look at those books,” one reader said in amazement.

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Another reader said she is excited to get started.

“It was like a bunch of books in there and I think some of them are going to be really good,” she said.

Dr. Hite says the goal is to get children reading at grade level by age 8.

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“Because we know if children start on track they stay on track throughout their time in school,” Hite said.