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Read to Final Four | Nearly 40,000 Houston-area students participating in city-wide reading competition

We're less than 8 months out from the Final Four, but it's not all about basketball leading up to the main event.

HOUSTON — The countdown is on!

We're less than eight months out from Houston once again hosting college basketball's biggest event — the 2023 NCAA Men's Final Four. 

But it's not all about basketball leading up to the Final Four. Many kids have books on the brain.

On Thursday, the NCAA and the Houston Local Organizing Committee hosted a pep rally at the Houston Public Library to kick off a city-wide reading competition.

More than 39,000 third-grade students from 11 Houston-area school districts are participating in this reading initiative that will last through the Final Four.

The main purpose of the competition: To inspire kids to read. 

How it works

It'll be a tournament-style reading competition. 

Third-grade students from each participating school will work in teams and earn points based on the average minutes read. 

Top schools will advance throughout the rounds, winning prizes.

The official competition tips off in November. 

"And then over the holiday we will see them in brackets, just like they do for the Final Four. So we'll have divisions. We're super excited KHOU is going to carry those bracket announcements," said Dorita Hatchett, senior director of community relations of HLOC.

The students are ready to take on the challenge and dance their way to the finals. 

"I'm just excited to read books honestly," said Kyan Wright, a third grader at Bruce Elementary.

"I want to make my brain stronger...," said Hayley Andrews who also attends Bruce Elementary.  

"I think it's amazing and I do like reading a lot," said Nyla Shivers, a third grader at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center.

This reading initiative started in Houston back in 2016.

"It's just awesome that we can get so many schools and the city of Houston behind the Final Four," said JoAn Scott, Managing Director of NCAA Men's Basketball Championships.

This will be Houston's fourth time hosting the Final Four. 

KHOU is partnering with the NCAA and the HLOC on the "Read to Final Four" event.

The Final Four will air on KHOU in 2023.

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