The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Emanuel Promises To Do Polar Bear Plunge If Kids Read 2 Million Books

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 12, 2013 8:40PM

"Don't be afraid, kid. You can do it." (Photo credit: Elliot Mandel)
Hey, children: want to see Mayor Emanuel squirm a little bit? Then start reading. The mayor, along with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and former Chicago Bear/new Detroit Lion Israel Idonije, promised to participate in the annual Polar Bear Plunge next year if children across Chicago read 2 million books by the end of the Library's "Rahm's Readers" program next month.

Children who participated in the program last year read 1.5 million books and, according to the guidelines, the criteria is pretty loose. Children are required to read 300 minutes between June 17 and Aug. 10 and it doesn't matter what they read: "Fiction books, informational books, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers and ebooks are great ways to experience the world and are all available at the Chicago Public Library."

The Library has a list of recommended books as part of the program. We don't see Persepolis on the list, but it is an intermediate read with lots of pretty pictures.

Emanuel said the thought of him jumping into Lake Michigan in winter "gives new meaning to the phrase 'reading is cool.'" (Clap, clap, clap.)

Tell you what? I'll issue my own challenge. If Mayor Emanuel declares a TIF surplus and uses it to fund Chicago Public Schools, I'll participate in the Polar Bear Plunge with him. Now get to reading, kids.