Coach K rewards Wake students who love reading

Posted April 23, 2012 2:22 p.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2012 2:40 p.m. EDT

— Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke to Wake County middle schoolers Monday as part of a reward for their love of reading.

Altogether, the nearly 500 students at nine Wake County middle schools read more than 16,000 books in the past year.

"I like the 'Maze Runner' by James Dash. I like that whole series," said Zane Monschein, a sixth grader at West Millbrook Middle School. Fellow sixth grader Izzee Arkern said her favorite is the "Hunger Games."

Krzyzewski told the students that he has slightly different reading tastes. "I like books about leaders," he said.

Whatever the book is, though, Krzyzewski said, children just need to read. "If you look at the stats, reading is a significant factor" in academic success, he said.

Krzyzewski spoke at the PNC Arena as part of the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Ticket to Reading Rewards program.

It gives children incentives such as tickets to college basketball games to get them to read. So far, students have read more than 4 million books as part of the program.

Organizers hope these events help make reading a lifetime habit for children.

Krzyzewski answered one other tip for students: How should they pronounce his name if they run across it while reading?

"Just say, 'Coach K.' Spelling it, forget it," he said.