FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The pandemic robbed so many children of valuable learning time. Now, the United Way is working to help them catch up.

More than 300 Hartford kids attending a free camp in Farmington are working hard to reach the goal of reading for a combined total of 1 million minutes.

“Sometimes I read The Babysitters Club and The Snowy Owl. It’s like chapter books and I really love it,” said Serenity from Hartford.

Campers at Farmington’s Camp Courant accepted the “Million Minute” challenge and The United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut gave away books and celebrated more than 300 Hartford kids Wednesday for pledging to getting on board.

“This last year has been so hard on everyone. On kids, on teachers, on parents. We know that one way to help kids get and stay on track, is if they read 20 minutes every day,” said Maura Cook, Spokesperson for United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

Part of the reason the United Way is doing this is because when kids can read proficiently by the 4th grade, it’s a good predictor of future success.

It’s easy to get excited about fun in the sun, but not everyone feels the same way about reading. So, Corey the Reading Apple is here to help.

When it comes to getting those reluctant readers on board, Camp officials may or may not have some tricks up their sleeves.

“We have so many counselors pushing this and encouraging it. We might have some prizes and incentives. But no one knows about those yet,” said Corrianne Chipello, Executive Director of Camp Courant.

“We’re doing our best to make sure everyone is engaged. This challenge isn’t only for campers. Everyone is invited to pledge,” said Cook.

You too can pledge your minutes all throughout the summer by visiting their website.