NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones and his charitable foundation, the Erik Jones Foundation, have partnered with North Carolina Humanities to promote a statewide reading initiative involving North Carolina-based authors.
NC Humanities is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the nonprofit organization connects North Carolinians with cultural experiences that spur dialogue, deepen human connections, and inspire community.
The Erik Jones Foundation champions childhood reading, specifically by embracing literature and promoting the inherent value a book provides. It allows kids to learn and think for themselves, all while combating a decline in grade-school reading proficiency due to COVID-19‘s impact on in-person learning.
The Foundation‘s partnership with NC Humanities will feature Jones reading North Carolina-centric books out loud to encourage reading at all levels. The 25-year-old racer from Byron, Michigan, who now calls North Carolina home, kicks off the partnership tonight at 7 p.m. EST with a #READwithErik event on his Facebook page. He will read Ty‘s Travels: Zip, Zoom by Raleigh, North Carolina‘s Kelly Starling Lyons.
“I‘ve always been an avid reader and it‘s helped me so much in life,” Jones said. “It made me smarter and a little more worldly, to where I could carry on conversations with people from all different backgrounds on a variety of topics. That‘s definitely helped me get to the NASCAR Cup Series, where relationships are just as important as what you can do behind the wheel of a racecar.
“Plus, reading can be a great escape. Whenever I‘ve faced challenges, sitting down with a good book has helped me relax and refocus, to where whatever I was dealing with before, I at least had a game plan of how to attack it and find a solution. Reading gives me confidence, mainly because I always know more after I finish a book than I did when I started.
“The work that NC Humanities does aligns really well with what we‘re trying to do with our Foundation. They appreciate the value books provide and are genuinely interested in getting more people to read, especially kids. We‘re very proud of this partnership and I‘m looking forward to the events we‘ll have together.”
#READwithErik began in the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 forced NASCAR to take a 10-week break and schools transitioned to remote learning. Jones saw an opportunity to share his passion for reading and the first #READwithErik event took place on April 21 when he sat down in front of a camera and read Dr. Seuss‘ iconic Oh, The Places You‘ll Go on his Facebook page. Since its debut, #READwithErik has featured 40 books with more than 200,000 views.
NC Humanities will provide a book a month to #READwithErik which will either be written by a North Carolina author or highlight the regions‘ cultures and traditions. Additional reading resources and original interviews with the books‘ authors will be available on NC Humanities‘ website, www.NCHumanities.org. NC Humanities is the official North Carolina affiliate for the Center for the Book, a Library of Congress program that promotes reading and literacy nationwide.
“NC Humanities is very pleased to partner with the Erik Jones Foundation,” said Sherry Paula Watkins, Executive Director, NC Humanities. “When we saw what Erik was doing online to promote reading, we knew the potential was there to not only support a good cause, but to also further our message of making sure more kids and adults are aware of the benefits of reading.”
Beyond the #READwithErik inclusion, the Erik Jones Foundation will support NC Humanities holistically throughout the year by promoting and participating in the activities surrounding the 2022 North Carolina Reads statewide book club and other book-centric programs for community centers, schools and libraries.
One upcoming North Carolina Reads event for a to-be-determined date in June is a live panel discussion with Jones and Driving with the Devil author Neal Thompson. The period book by the Asheville, North Carolina-based writer chronicles the rise of NASCAR from its 1930s-era moonshine-running roots to its mainstream popularity of today, where it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and PGA.
Jones read Driving with the Devil last year and enjoyed it so much that he bought numerous copies and gave them as Christmas presents to friends and colleagues within the racing community.
Those wishing to support the Erik Jones Foundation and its initiatives, which also includes encouraging early cancer detection and care for people and promoting animal welfare, can make tax-deductible contributions to the Erik Jones Foundation via the following address or online at www.ErikJonesRacing/Foundation.
— Erik Jones Foundation —