Wichita State, StoryTime Village hold second-annual Hoops 4 Literacy event in Charles Koch Arena


Morgan Anderson

Kaelon Gary goes up for a three-point shot during the Hoops 4 Literacy game that was hosted by StoryTime Village and Wichita State on Friday inside Charles Koch Arena. The event hosted 1,200 local third graders.

Wichita State athletics partnered with StoryTime Village, a non-profit organization that focuses on children’s literacy, for the second-annual Hoops 4 Literacy basketball game. More than 1,200 third graders from Wichita grade schools were in attendance.

This year’s Hoops 4 Literacy event featured a game in which the Wichita Police Department faced off against the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s department. Other team members that rounded out rosters included members from Wichita’s semi-professional basketball team the Wichita Wizards, local community leaders, and former Shocker all-time leading rebounder Angela Buckner.

The Ramsey’s Rams took down the Easter’s Rabbits, 59-45.

StoryTime Village was created to serve low-income children and families in the state of Kansas. Since its beginning in 2009, the organization has worked to help underserved children gain access to books and literary arts.

Third graders are the target audience for StoryTime Village but will also help students all the way up to fifth grade.

“Studies have shown that if you’re not reading for the love of reading by the third grade, then you’re just going to read for instruction,” StoryTime Village volunteer coordinator Darryl Carrington said. “We found out that these third graders are reading way below their reading level, and we are getting them excited about books and reading.”

Hoops 4 Literacy was also founded to make kids more comfortable with police and law enforcement officers in the community. Carrington believes that children can be “uptight” with officers in the public and in schools, and the organization wants to change that negative narrative.

“It’s an organic way to build relationships with community orientated officers,” Carrington said. “This event is just a great way to plant a seed that these aren’t bad guys.”

“Just imagine as a kid with an officer showing up to your school, you’d be nervous. We want to eliminate that nervousness, that’s why we also have officers go to these schools and read to the kids.”

This year’s event was coordinated by Wichita State student Li Wang, a senior studying psychology, women’s studies, and art and design. She’s also a senator for Wichita State’s Student Government Association. When asked about the purpose of the event, she echoed Carrington’s sentiment. 

“Kids are scared of police,” Wang said. “By putting on this event, it’s hopeful that they won’t be after today because they’re just like everyone else.”

Wang was also excited to give back to the children in the community.

“Giving these books to kids that may not have them is just a way to give back to the community,” Wang said. “These kids are the future, so we are just helping the future of this community grow.”

Last year’s event saw around 1,500 students in attendance. Even with a drop in attendance, Carrington hopes to continue to grow the event in the future.

“Last year we had more kids, I don’t know what happened this year,” Carrington said. “Regardless, we are still making an impact on these kids that were here, and hopefully we can change even more lives next year.”