Knicks legend John Starks reads to NIA summer campers

Former New York Knicks all-star shooting guard and fan-favorite John Starks taught NIA Summer Day Camp kids that reading is a slam dunk. On August 6, campers ages six through 10 and the staff at NIA Community Services Network joined Starks, State Senator Marty Golden and members of Cablevision’s Optimum and Madison Square Garden for the Eighth Annual Knicks Summer Reading Program, “Read-Aloud for Local Children.”

The event aimed to explain to youngsters the importance – and fun – of reading, especially when school’s out for the summer months.

“It means a lot to teach kids the importance of reading,” said Starks. “Being a father, I understand how important reading is to a child’s education and it’s great to be a part of an organization that really stresses education.”

Starks and Golden, with the help of young and willing participants, read Allie’s Basketball Dream“I think kids really enjoy seeing somebody with star power, but in addition to his star power, he also talks about how it’s important to have skills like reading,” said Liz Ferrier, director of government and public affairs for Cablevision. “You don’t only need physical skills. You need the mental skills as well. [Starks] will tell the story on how he thought he’d play basketball forever, and it doesn’t work out that way, so reading is an important fundamental skill to have.”

Golden agreed. “This is an important age to focus on reading. It’s the name of the game,” he said. “You can’t do anything without reading. You can’t do math or problem solving.”

After the reading, Starks and company surprised the kids with an interactive pop quiz. Using electronic clickers, the children were given multiple choice questions on the book they had just read. Golden and the basketball great then held a raffle where several lucky campers scored free backpacks and New York Liberty tickets.

The kids had a blast mingling with Starks, who stayed to sign autographs after the event. The day is likely to be a highlight of their summer, according to NIA activity specialist Doreen Gucciardo. “They are overjoyed. They’re thrilled beyond belief. They’ve been waiting for this day all summer long,” she said. “It means so much. Mr. Starks was so nice in doing this.”

Starks, who is also the Knicks Alumni Relations and Fan Development Advisor, believes that encouragement from adults is the key to getting kids to have a desire to read. “Kids like it when their parents are involved and have an understanding in what they’re doing. It inspires them to do more.”

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