May 30, 2023

FREE Community Screening of “The Right to Read” Documentary June 3

Virginia Beach is featured in the film through a local family’s story

​The City of Virginia Beach, GrowSmart, and the GrowSmart Foundation are hosting a FREE community screening of "The Right to Read" documentary at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, at Zeider's American Dream Theater (4509 Commerce St.). Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Director Jenny Mackenzie and the Hunters, a local family featured in the film. A panel discussion will follow along with community exhibitors and literacy resources.

"The Right to Read" shares the stories of an activist, a teacher, and two American families who fight to provide our youngest generation with the most foundational indicator of life-long success: the ability to read. The Hunter family—Isaiah, Teresa and Ivy—from Virginia Beach share their journey in the film after they enrolled in the GrowSmart LENA START class when their daughter was two months old. Teresa went on to become a trained LENA START coordinator with GrowSmart and leads other parents in LENA START classes to ignite their power to support their child's early language and brain development.

GrowSmart has led local collaborative efforts focused on early childhood development and early literacy for decades. Virginia Beach joined the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading in 2012 and created Virginia Beach READS, a local coalition of community partners focused on addressing the challenge of reading proficiency by third grade. Research proves third grade reading proficiency is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success.

To learn more about the documentary and register for the free screening, visit

FREE Community Screening of “The Right to Read” Documentary June 3

The Right to Read documentary produced by Jenny Mackenzie and executive produced by LeVar Burton.

About GrowSmart

GrowSmart is operated through the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development and exists to promote and improve the healthy development, school readiness and reading proficiency of young children ages 0-8. In addition to providing resources for parents and families, GrowSmart also offers programming to ensure the availability of high-quality early education. Visit for more information.

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