Summer reading program kicks off with baseball

The first in a series of Read for the Win events began last week with a special appearance by mascot Parker of the Fresno Grizzlies.

This year’s Oakhurst Branch Library’s summer reading program is connected with the Olympics, “so we want you all to be winners in your reading,” Branch Manager Dale Rushing told the crowd of an estimated 150 youngsters.

Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund Assistant Chris Ortiz asked the children, sitting comfortably cross-legged on the floor, “Do you think ball players need to read?” A sea of tiny heads nodded.

“Well, they actually read a whole bunch,” Ortiz continued. “And Parker does a whole lot of reading, too. He’s here, but he will only come out if you’re loud and pumped, just like at the stadium.”

The children built up their momentum and volume slowly. “Parker, Parker, Parker ... ”

Parker, who turns 10 this year, ran from behind the crowd to join Ortiz center front. On one of his fuzzy paws, Parker sported a gigantic 2015 National Champion ring, which is the equivalent to winning the World Series in major league baseball. The Grizzlies closed out the season last year by winning the Pacific Coast League title.

Following several questions for Parker, the Grizzlies’ 4th edition of Farm Grown was handed out. The booklet was not only filled with colorful activity pages for all ages, but plenty of reading.

“The better reader you are,” Ortiz said, “the further along you will get in life.”

He then told the young readers that for each reading goal met during the summer program, that child will receive two tickets for a Grizzlies game.

The summer program finale is July 27. At that time, the winners of a boys and girls bike will be announced.

Details: (559) 683-4838.