All-Star Reading Program

Sign up
as a student!

as an adult or young adult reader!

About the Program

EYEJ engages middle and high school youth in programs designed to build community, develop their civic voice and civil discourse, develop social-emotional learning and promote social justice for its core program –the Discussion Series. Having served youth now in 13 schools and 4 recreation centers, we understand the environment and needs of our Cleveland youth. Therefore with the collaboration with Kent State University, and the EYEJ Impact 25 Youth Council we know that reading proficiency rates are low, and need to be improved upon. Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EYEJ responded quickly to our youth being out of school, and created the All-Star Reading program. Through this program, youth will be read to by older youth, they will engage, do activities and reflect. The initial launch of this program will begin with the book: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. A customized copyrighted curriculum is provided to help develop value and interest for reading, but also increase content knowledge and reading proficiency rates for students by connecting with youth role models in the Cleveland area. The custom copyrighted curriculum has been built from the learnings from the Discussion Series program, EYEJ and Charla Martin-Bloodsaw. The selected book readings will include age-appropriate selections across genres divided into chapter readings to engage the participants. Each 50-minute reading session is led by EYEJ Impact 25 Youth Council and EYEJ Discussion Series team readers with a few words on focus and an integrated discussion. Each session will end with a reflection activity.

The Issue

Reading comprehension is an issue that lives not too far away. The Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) struggles with this issue as it strives to improve how its metrics are met. The Ohio Department of Education’s School Report Card reports the CMSD’s 2018 4-year Graduation Rate as an F at 78.2% with a 5-year Graduation Rate performing only slightly higher as a D at 81.5%. A further probe into these statistics shows in the fifth grade these same students begin to achieve reading comprehension sustaining this only through the eighth grade.

Unfortunately, the data shows deterioration in this same area when looking at their high school progression. This insight is important when looking to identify the best time to work with students to turn their interest into a true desire to know more by reading more.

The data from ‘at risk’ schools reflect progression variability across the grades providing additional inspiration to instill a desire to develop our voice by reading. The EYEJ reading program led by Charla Martin-Bloodsaw is designed to meet the students ‘in the moment’ bridging from a program whose mechanics have been tested in the school district showing measures of success.


  • The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander.
  • Malala My Story of Standing up for Girls’ Rights
  • Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
  • Martin Rising, Requiem for a King
  • The Giving Tree


“The students appreciate the open discussions between them and the facilitator. They can relate to topics and are interested in getting more information on certain topics.”

– Teacher at Mound Elementary School

“EYEJ is very beneficial to my middle school scholars at Fullerton. The discussion and conversation series they provided were very important regarding difficult social issues but were relative for our scholars. It allows for positive dialogue with speakers from all backgrounds in which the learning’s go beyond the school and reaches out into their environment and community. This therefore leads to positive change within and outside the classroom.”

– Kevin L. Payton, The Fullerton School of Academics Principal – CMSD

“The information that I learned today will make me a better person of tomorrow.”

– 8th grader from Mound Elementary School

“As an African American man, EYEJ provides me with an opportunity to help change the world through sharing my life with adolescent African American boys.”

– Brian Shields; Volunteer Speaker, Rev. & Staff Chaplain/Healing Services Coordinator of Cleveland Clinic

The views and opinions of the speaker are their own and do not necessarily represent those of EYEJ. Speakers at EYEJ events, or the presence of vendors at EYEJ events, do not constitute an endorsement of the vendor or speaker's views, products or services.