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Last year, H-E-B launched an early childhood literacy campaign called Read 3 with a goal to collect one million books to give to families in need and succeeded. As Read 3 approaches its one-year anniversary, H-E-B aims to collect another one million books in 2012-13, starting with a two-week book drive in all Texas stores from Sept. 12 - 25.

H-E-B is encouraging customers to drop off new and gently used children’s books in special collection bins in all stores, and is giving away 600 different children’s book titles with 15 Combo Locos and a Meal Deal.

To celebrate the event, H-E-B is planning costume story times and local author readings in each region. Visit for a schedule of events in your city or town.

A Story time with Nate the Great is planned from 1 to 3 p.m. at H-E-B Plus, Saturday, September 15. H-E-B Plus is located at 2409 E. Expressway 83, in Mission.

Books collected in stores will be donated to children in need through schools, libraries, nonprofits and H-E-B’s annual Feast of Sharing dinners. If your organization is in need of books, applications can be found at

During this year’s two-week event, customers can pick up a variety of Combo Locos and a Meal Deal and go home with 15 free books featuring popular characters such as Ratatouille and Sponge Bob Squarepants. In addition, all children’s books are being offered at a 30 percent discount and “Where the Wilds Things Are” — H-E-Buddy’s Book of the Month selection — is being offered at a 40 percent discount.

Read 3 encourages parents to read to their children at least three times a week to build a strong foundation for early literacy. However, access to books can be a significant problem for many low-income families. H-E-B has increased its book offerings and placed literacy centers in 14 stores statewide to serve as a community hub for story times, character appearances and book signings with popular authors.

During the two-week event, H-E-B will also be teaming up with the Texas Library Association and the San Antonio Public Library Foundation to encourage families to apply for a library card.

It’s estimated that 85 percent of a person’s intellect, personality and skills is developed in the first five years of life, according to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. In addition, research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who are not proficient readers by the end of third grade have a 74 percent chance of never catching up to their peers.

“It is absolutely critical that parents introduce children to letters and numbers before they get to school. In Texas, one in four children is not read to regularly, one of the worst rates in the nation. At H-E-B, we want to turn that statistic around,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B Vice President of Partner Communication and Engagement.

H-E-B’s Read 3 campaign is the brainchild of H-E-B CEO and Chairman Charles Butt, who has a strong commitment to education. H-E-B is also the creator of the Excellence in Education Awards, the state’s largest monetary awards program for schools, administrators and teachers.

Help recognize your favorite teacher or principal today by nominating them for an award at

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