By Ukee Washington


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Amanda and Andrea Blassingame are going door-to-door in their West Philadelphia neighborhood, armed with smiles and literature.

“So basically, we’re Reading Captains,” Amanda tells one neighbor.

“At first they look at us: ‘You mean block captains?'” Andrea said. “‘No, we’re Reading Captains, which is something completely different.'”

As Reading Captains, Andrea and Amanda distribute literacy information to their neighbors. It’s part of a citywide volunteer effort called Read by 4th.

The goal? Getting all fourth-graders reading on grade level.

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They’re also taking their campaign window-to-window, creating a poster campaign called #BlackMenRead, showing men reading in places like barbershops.

“A lot of African-American men do not read a lot,” Amanda said, “but it’s really important for the community, our community specifically, to pick up a book and read, and you can do that in a barbershop.”

Andrea said, “I want the kids to see the images they’re not used to seeing. I want them to see our black men reading and educating themselves.”

Nakia Dillard volunteered to be one of the models for a photo shoot at Major League Cuts.

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“There’s so much stuff in a book that can take you anywhere,” Nakia said. “I think it’s very important for people to see that.”

Amanda and Andrea have been distributing the final posters to local businesses for free, just one more way they’re spreading their love of literacy.

If you want to find out more about Read by 4th or sign up to become a Reading Captain, click here.

Ukee Washington