Martellus Bennett dresses as dinosaur, Santa Claus to inspire passion for young readers

By Alex Butler

June 15 (UPI) -- New Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett is collaborating with YouTube Kids for their global #ReadAlong month initiative.

Bennett recently dressed up as Batman, a dinosaur and even Santa Claus to excite young readers for a YouTube playlist. Bennett wants to inspire his 4-year-old daughter Jett and other children around the world to develop a lifelong passion for reading.


"Books are a great way to travel and we love an awesome fun-cation," Bennett said in a news release.

YouTube's June #ReadAlong month is an international campaign that features top entertainment brands like Universal's Despicable Me Minions and book publishers like HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and National Geographic Kids. The collaborators created digital content to help children learn how to read and show them why reading is fun.

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Bennett's playlist is titled Daddy Daughter Story Time with Martellus Bennett #ReadAlong). It premiered Thursday on the YouTube Kids app.

Bennett joined the Packers in March on a three-year, $20.25 million contract. He teams up with Aaron Rodgers on the heels of a Super Bowl LI victory with the New England Patriots. The 2014 Pro Bowler has also had stops with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Chicago Bears.


But Bennett isn't just an athlete, and he doesn't want youngsters to grow up thinking that's their only life choice. In February, Bennett had a series of tweets with messages to the youth. They have since been deleted, but they had a strong message.

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"I appreciate all of the love," Bennett tweeted in February. "I honestly just want people to look at black kids and not say he's the next Michael Jordan all the time."

Bennett's company, The Imagination Agency, produces short films and publishes children's books. He built a free interactive app to parallel his children's tales. He wrote the book Hey A.J. it's Saturday, which is based on his daughter.

He is beginning a movement with All-Pro passion.

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"I don't come on the Internet to build my self esteem nor will what strangers think ever bother me," Bennett tweeted in February. "I'm that black boy. That black boy is me."

"Buy my children's book. It's lead character is also black like my daughter. Only 3 percent of children's books have characters of color. 3 percent. Think about that."

Bennett has two libraries in his house and owns thousands of books. He says he loves to read and write because his "ancestors weren't allowed to."


The YouTube Kids #ReadAlong campaign connects with children in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

The app is available for free on Google Play and the App store. If you have the YouTube Kids App, click here for the direct download.

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