2 million books and counting

2 million books and counting
Folks gathered at King School in Northeast Portland on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 to celebrate Start Making A Reader Today's milestone. Over the past 20 years, the non-profit organization has given Oregon kids more than 2 million books to take home with them. Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com Producer/Reporter.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A non-profit organization that has spent the past couple of decades putting smiles on kids' faces by teaching them the joy of reading is celebrating a big milestone this year.

Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) has now given two million books to kids across Oregon and they look forward to giving even more in the coming years.

"Reading really opens up so many opportunities for children," said Chris Otis, SMART's Executive Director. "In some cases, it can change life trajectory."

SMART partners with schools across Oregon, specifically those in low-income communities. They pair up volunteers with young children (pre-K through 3rd grade) for one-on-one reading. Kids involved in the program also get to take home 14 new books each school year so they can have their own personal library.

On Wednesday, SMART celebrated the 2 million mark at King School in Northeast Portland. A small group of educators, policy makers and those who have donated to the program got together to do some reading with a kindergarten class and help the kids choose a book to take home.

SMART has been around since 1991 and has helped more than 152,000 kids with their reading skills. This year alone, more than 5,000 volunteers across the state will take time out of their lives to make sure kids get a chance to enjoy books. The video below, produced by SMART, gives an overview of what the organization does: