The Phoenix Mercury and three-time WNBA champion Penny Taylor has teamed up with KidsRead USA to launch a season-long reading initiative, “Penny Taylor: One for the Books,” designed to address childhood literacy and provide local underserved children with access to books.

“Penny Taylor: One for the Books” will celebrate the 12-year career (and counting!) of one of the franchise’s most beloved and accomplished players, while also supporting a cause that has been at the heart of Taylor’s community efforts.  For every point that Taylor scores during the 2016 regular season, the Phoenix Mercury will purchase a book, through KidsRead USA, for a third-grade student at a local Title I school.  Fans will have a chance to participate by donating new Dr. Seuss books during a book drive on June 12 as part of the Mercury’s annual Dads & Daughters game. The program will culminate at the end of the season when the Mercury distributes the books to various schools in the Valley. For many of the students, this will be the first new book that they will own.

“My love of reading began as a small child when I realized that by reading a book I could escape wherever I was, and go to any place I wished,” said Mercury forward Penny Taylor. “I could have experiences in magical places, learn amazing things and put myself in anyone’s shoes.  I hope this program will help young children develop that same passion for reading, while promoting how important reading is in education and life.”

Taylor, a three-time WNBA champion and three-time WNBA All-Star, is the team’s second all-time leading scorer, and recently re-signed to return for her 10th season in a Mercury uniform.   Taylor is also the second-longest tenured player in the history of the franchise. She will travel to Rio in July to compete in her fourth Olympic games for the Australian National Team, and has already won two silver medals and one bronze in previous Olympics. In addition to her accolades on the court, Taylor is an avid reader, who is passionate about supporting education and literacy as well as instilling a love for reading in children.

Since its inception, KidsRead USA has given away more than 40,000 books to third grade students in Phoenix, Arizona.  The program primarily serves the Balsz and Osborn school districts which are low-income areas. For many of these students, the books provided by KidsRead are the first they will own. Currently, KidsRead USA provides books for approximately 750 children, seven times a school year.