YONKERS, N.Y. – A former New York Knicks star is giving Yonkers children lessons for life off the hardwood.
Retired guard John Starks was in the Yonkers Public Library’s Riverfront branch Wednesday as part of the Read to Achieve summer series hosted by Cablevision. There, dozens of parents and children crowded into the auditorium, anxious to meet the former NBA player and hear him read “Giant Steps to Change the World” by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee.
“It’s very exciting that there’s so many kids who want to learn and are excited about learning,” Starks said before the event. “These kids understand why they’re here. They understand the importance of picking up a book and reading.”
Outside the auditorium, a line stretched around the entryway as fans, many decked out in their Knicks gear, waited anxiously to see their hero.
“Our family is big basketball fans,” Daria Whitehead said, standing in line with her two children. “We are fans of the Knicks so we wanted to see Mr. Starks.”
Yonkers was among six stops that the Read to Achive series will make in three states this summer in an effort to encourage children to pick up books while school is out. Nick Marino, manager of events for the series, said that when school lets out, children tend to lose some of their reading skills.
“There is a reading retention loss in the summer,” he said. “The goal is to encourage summer reading and help kids continue their skills.”
Not all the visitors were Knicks fans. Emanuel Phillip admitted he wasn’t even sure who John Starks was before the event. Phillip was part of a group of Yonkers High School students who volunteered to spend their summer at the library, working and writing reviews of books.
“I love to read,” the soon-to-be 10th-grader said. “And it’s nice interacting with other people.”