LEAD, S.D. (KELO) –Each year, Black Hills Reads provides a book to every third grader thanks to the Grade Level Reading Initiative.

This year, the author of the book joined Miss South Dakota to talk with the young readers.

Miranda O’Bryan has an initiative titled “Page Turners Fall in Love with Reading”, and continues to push the emphasis on literacy.

“Yes you need that passion for it but also it’s integral to your life. It creates that foundation for your education, your future, literally everything you do,” Miss South Dakota Miranda O’Bryan said.

Author Kate DiCamillo believes parents can take the first step in getting their kids to read more.

“To take them to the library, to read to them and for them to see you reading a book for your own pleasure. So that reading is not a task but rather, something that is a privilege and a pleasure,” Author Kate DiCamillo said.

Over the past two days here in the Black Hills, Kate has spoken to almost 2,000 3rd graders. Those all over Rapid City as well as Sturgis, Lead and Deadwood on the importance of reading and writing.

These 3rd graders were excited to receive their very own book.

“They have access to this book that is their very own so it can inspire them. Maybe this isn’t the book that sparks that passion, but maybe another will and this is just a stepping stone for them,” O’Bryan said.

DiCamillo has been impressed by the questions these students were asking and thanks the teachers for their help.

“I’m grateful to every teacher in South Dakota and everywhere who pulls out a book after lunch everyday and reads to the kids,” DiCamillo said.

Black Hills Reads aims to improve reading and writing levels of children in the 3rd grade to improve academic success.

If you would like to learn more about Black Hills Reads and their five pillars of focus, you can find that here.