Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson and his Defend the Dream Foundation Launch Hitting the Books Reading Challenge Across Kansas City Public Schools
Posted By:  Annie Butler
Friday, January 23, 2015

Photos by Jesse Blacklaw Photography. See more HERE.

KANSAS CITY, MO. –Kansas City Chiefs ten-year veteran Derrick Johnson visited Crispus Attucks Elementary School in Kansas City Public Schools Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 21 to launch an exciting new Reading Challenge across the region.


Hitting the Books is a program of Derrick Johnson’s Defend the Dream Foundation and Scholastic’s Read 100,000 national initiative. Johnson challenged every student at Crispus Attucks Elementary School, and simultaneously 37,000 elementary students attending schools across the Kansas City region, to read 20 minutes a day for the rest of the year and log their minutes online at The goal for each school is to read a combined 100,000 minutes for the chance to win a celebratory party with DJ.


“You get them while they’re young,” said Johnson. “And you put it in their head that reading is fundamental. You make them believe that it’s important. Reading helps you grow. Education is going to get you out of the inner cities. It’s going to help your families. It’s going to give you things. Doctor, lawyer, whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do, but education has to come first.”


Researchers have found that children who read for fun 20 minutes a day, three times a week are more likely to score in the 80th percentile or better on standardized tests. Hitting the Books was designed to encourage that behavior and bring families, schools and communities together to support children’s literacy development.


“Increasing literacy is one of our most important goals as we strive to help our students become collaborative, creative, caring and critical thinkers and communicators,” KCPS Superintendent R. Stephen Green, Ed.D., said. “I’m so thankful to Derrick Johnson, his Defend the Dream Foundation and Scholastic for stepping up as partners to motivate our children to improve their mental fitness by making reading a regular part of their day.”


After he announced the Reading Challenge, Johnson introduced Clifford the Big Red Dog  and read Pete the Cat and the New Guy aloud to the students at Crispus Attucks Elementary. Hitting the Books Reading Challenge will last through the end of the school year. Parents are encouraged to post pictures and videos of their child participating in the Reading Challenge with #HittingtheBooks and #DefendtheDream.


Next up for Johnson’s Foundation is the launch of the first DJ’s Discovery Den. In partnership with Scholastic Johnson’s Defend the Dream will transform an unused classroom or area in a Kansas City public school into a reading oasis. He will stock it with over 1,000 age-appropriate books and the furnishings to make it a comfortable, safe and enjoyable space to read. The first DJ Discovery Den will be launched this spring.


About Derrick Johnson’s Defend the Dream Foundation

Derrick Johnson founded the Defend the Dream Foundation in 2013 with the mission to provide low income and inner-city youth with opportunities and educational resources to reach their full potential. For more information about the foundation visit


About Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City Public Schools is dedicated to graduating students that are college, career, and workforce ready. This mission is supported by innovative classroom instruction, engaging programs, highly qualified employees, and an engaged and well-informed community. To learn more about the ways our community of schools supports students and the community-at-large, please visit Kansas City Public Schools on Facebook, or KCMOSchools on Twitter.


CONTACT: Annie Butler /513.600.6930/



Subscribe To Our Blog

Blog Categories

  • DJ
    • 05/21/2019 - Derrick Johnson Unveils 16th '
    • 10/16/2018 - Defend the Dream Foundation Aw
    • 08/10/2017 - DJ Takes Time Away from Traini
    • 03/31/2017 - Cheifs LB Derrick Johnson Open
    • 01/04/2017 - Derrick Johnson: Byron “Whizze
    • 11/30/2016 - Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson Unveil
    • 11/30/2016 - KMBC: Chiefs linebacker opens
    • 10/27/2016 - Derrick Johnson to host 'An Ev
    • 08/05/2016 - Derrick Johnson Distributes 50
    • 06/09/2016 - Derrick Johnson Ra
    • 06/08/2016 - Derrick Johnson Raises More Th
    • 04/27/2016 - DJ Unveils his 9th DJ's Discov
    • 04/26/2016 - Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Jo
    • 12/23/2015 - Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson is hel
    • 12/23/2015 - Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson shares
    • 11/19/2015 - Kansas City Public Schools Hon
    • 10/27/2015 - Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Jo
    • 08/10/2015 - Kansas City Star | Chiefs' Der
    • 05/29/2015 - Sheet Metal Workers Union #2 |
    • 05/22/2015 - Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Jo
    • 05/20/2015 - | Chiefs LB Derri
    • 05/19/2015 - CHAT SPORTS | Chiefs Linebacke
    • 03/31/2015 - Tickets on sale for May 18 Cel
    • 01/23/2015 - Kansas City Chiefs’ Derrick Jo
    • 01/22/2015 - KMBZ | Chiefs linebacker Derri
    • 08/12/2014 - | DJ helped stude
    • 08/08/2014 - | Derrick Johnson
    • 06/12/2014 - | Derrick Johnson
    • 06/11/2014 - Arrowhead Addict | Five Though
    • 06/10/2014 - Arrowhead Addict | Derrick Joh
    • 06/04/2014 - Arrowhead Addict | Derrick Joh
    • 05/22/2014 - Arrowhead Pride | Derrick John
    • 04/22/2014 - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS' DERRICK J

Tag Cloud