CLEVELAND (WJW) – Have you set a goal to read more in 2023? If so, a local reading challenge has your name all over it.

“Reading is good for us, right? Reading is healthy. It increases our knowledge,” said Erica Marks, Cleveland Public Library’s Outreach and Programming Services Senior Director.

On January 1, Marks helped launch Cleveland Reads, a challenge she says you still have time to join.

“Our initiative was launched by the mayor’s office, the Cleveland Public Library, and 30 local organizations to increase the reading levels in the city of Cleveland. So, our goal is to read at least one million books together collectively, by the end of this year,” said Marks.

For clarity, the goal is one million books and/or one million minutes of reading.

In a city where data from Seeds of Literacy shows 66 percent of adults are functionally illiterate, Mayor Justin Bibb has said the challenge could improve outcomes from academic success to workforce development.

“Some of us are aware of the challenges in the reading levels, the literacy levels in adults, as well as children,” said Marks. “We are a little bit behind the mark. So, we want to encourage one another, uplift one another to, you know, get to where we should be, and just have a love of reading overall.”

You do have to register online to participate. So far, thousands of readers have signed up. Doing so puts readers in the running for rewards.

“You read, you log, and then you win,” said Marks. “So, you read your books, and audio does count; that’s a big question. Log the books that you have read, and then you have a chance to win those amazing, awesome prizes.”

Marks said Cleveland Reads participants won Southwest Airlines gift cards, laptops, Apple iPads, and Nintendo Switches in the first weeks of the challenge. There are more prizes to come.

So, what can you read?

Marks said manga counts, comic books count, and even magazines and newspapers. If you’re reading, that’s all that matters.

“Get involved at your level. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be ashamed. Read what piques your interest. Read what is comfortable for you,” said Marks. “Even though we are trying to get to a million books we got the whole year, do what works for you. Take your time. I always tell everybody find your accountability partners, your reading buddies. That helps, and of course, the library is always here for support if anybody needs help.”

While the focus is getting Clevelanders to read, the challenge is open to all Northeast Ohioans. If you or your family want to sign up for Cleveland Reads, click here.