Trying to get first graders to listen quietly to a story can be a difficult task. Murch Elementary School teachers counted backward from five attempting to have complete silence by the time they got to one. Star closing pitcher for the Washington Nationals, Sean Doolittle, joked, "we need to teach our manager that trick." 

On Tuesday morning, Doolittle spent time with students reading Curious George at the Baseball Game. Doolittle's visit was a way to kick off the 2019 Summer Challenge. DC Public Library is encouraging students to read for 20 minutes a day in an effort to help children avoid loss of learning over the summer.  

Doolittle wants to promote reading and show how fun it can be. An avid reader himself, the closer says it is one of his favorite things to do. "It is much easier to take your phone out and just look at my phone or pull up something on Netflix. But blocking off a little bit of time every day, every other day, getting into that routine. Like I said, it's about helping you get a little bit more well rounded, having that balance in your life and getting to do something you really enjoy."


Starting during spring training, the closer wanted to create his own kind of reading challenge. "We were in West Palm Beach and where we were staying I was having trouble finding a good book store. I hadn't found a place that had any strong ties to the community. It didn't have much local flavor."

That's when the idea was born. For each new city he goes to, he makes sure to visit a local indie book store. 

"It is a cool way for me to explore cities on the road to get off the beaten path a little bit. To experience parts of the city that are very, very unique. It captures a little more of what the city is all about and supporting local businesses."

Doolittle shared some of his favorites from places like Atlanta, Greenwich Village and Denver. It is his favorite way to spend a morning on the road before a night game.

When he started this challenge, he did most of the research on his own. However, as news of his travels spread, the suggestions came pouring in. Doolittle joked, "Book Twitter has been great." 

Through the help of social media, he has been able to talk with book lovers, get book recommendations and discover must-see spots in each city.

He has created a Twitter thread of all the trendy spots he has been able to slip away to.