Adobe Stock
More than 4,000 Utah elementary school students are being rewarded for their summer reading with a night out at a Salt Lake Bees baseball game.

SALT LAKE CITY— More than 4,000 Utah elementary school students are being rewarded for their summer reading with a night out at a Salt Lake Bees baseball game.

The Salt Lake Bees baseball team will host Read Today Night on Wednesday as part of its support for summer readership. The event comes as a celebration for students completing the Bees Summer Reading Challenge. The reading challenge is an effort by the Deseret News, KSL, the Bees, the Utah State Library Division and Seagull Books.

The program is also in its second year of partnership with Gov. Gary Herbert and first lady Jeanette Herbert's Read with a Child program, which is hoping to help parents get their kids active in reading through 20 minutes of reading each day.

"Reading 20 minutes a day builds a foundation for success in school and in life," Herbert wrote in a letter addressed to the students participating in Read Today. "If you continue to read and learn, you will be equipped to make a positive difference — in your family, community, state and the world."

For the fifth year running, participating readers were challenged to read at least 20 minutes a day, filling in a score card in the shape of a baseball diamond. After reading for four hours, participants reached "first base" and received a color-changing pencil from Read Today KSL. Another four hours of reading and another base earned readers a free book from Seagull Books. Readers reaching "third base" were awarded with a free Happy Meal from McDonalds, and the "home run" prize for readers included two tickets to the Salt Lake Bees game. Young readers also win a free foam finger at the Bees game.

Cindy Richards, the director of Deseret News' Newspapers in Education program, said the Read Today program is conducted as an effort to "help families improve lives" through literacy.

"Our goal is to keep kids reading all summer long, because that's where they lose so many skills," Richards said.

She said the baseball game tickets and other prizes are good incentives to get families involved in summer reading.