United Way Wants to Get Kids in the Black Hills Excited about Reading

Race to Read Challenge Logo


Date: 1/6/23

Contact: Hanna Glissendorf, Director of Black Hills Reads

Email: hanna@unitedwayblackhills.org

Phone: (605) 343-5872


Rapid City, S.D. — The United Way of the Black Hills is excited to announce its Race to Read Challenge, starting on Jan. 9 and finishing on March 2. This reading competition invites Black Hills residents of all ages to enjoy the wonderful world of reading. For every 25 books read during the challenge (including audiobooks), a figurative car is driven one mile on a road trip across South Dakota. 

Prizes are up for grabs, too. Any school, classroom, community organization, library, for-profit business, individual or family in South Dakota that would like to compete in this reading challenge is encouraged to do so. “It’s important for kids to see the adults in their lives reading,” explained Hanna Glissendorf, Director of Black Hills Reads, an initiative of the United Way of the Black Hills. “That’s one of the primary ways kids can gain a lifelong love of reading.”

The United Way of the Black Hills started Black Hills Reads to address one of the most pressing needs in the Black Hills: access to quality early childhood education. “The goal is to help children reach grade level reading by third grade. Research has shown that an early foundation in literacy is a pretty accurate indicator of life success in people. When children are able to reach their appropriate reading level by third grade, they typically stay proficient in literacy throughout school,” Glissendorf said. “When a child has a love of reading, all kinds of benefits follow them throughout school and into adulthood.”

Glissendorf views early literacy as a part of the whole picture of the community needs of the Black Hills. She explained, “If you don’t invest in early childhood education, you’re not going to have a knowledgeable workforce. If you want to have talented people in your organizations or if you want to have your businesses flourish, you need people who have the opportunity to be educated. It really is an investment in the future workforce.” 

Mini-grants are available for organizations that wish to host parties or other events to get their teams excited for participating in Race to Read. For more information on participating in the challenge, please visit unitedwayblackhills.org/2023-race-read-challenge

An informational flyer and a graphic for the Race to Read Challenge can be downloaded here: Race to Read Media