Photo: With several students donning their Cowboys jerseys, Brandenburg Elementary youngsters listen as Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garret reads from Charlotte’s Web to kick off ‘Texas Reads One Book’. /Photo by Adam Stephens
Irving ISD elementary students joined students studying in school districts across the state for the Texas Reads One Book event, also known as ‘One District, One Book’. From April 11 to 29, every elementary student in Irving ISD (approximately 18,000 students) will read one chapter of Charlotte’s Web each night with their families, according to a shared reading schedule. The schools will hold regular events and activities in order to make sure kids stay excited about the book.
To start the program, many school districts held simultaneous assemblies during which the children watched a video of Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Jason Garrett, reading the first chapter of the book. Afterwards, each child received their own copy of the book.
“I remember when I read Charlotte’s Web when I was a child, and I want every child who reads the book to have a similar experience,” Irving ISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra said. “The whole point of this event is for kids to read a book that they will remember years and years later. We are trying to create a culture of literacy in Irving. We want to make reading a life-long habit for our kids.”
Dr. Parra visited Brandenburg Elementary School during their assembly to speak with some of the kids participating in the program. While only the third and fourth graders attended the assembly, the book was distributed to everyone in the school, including all faculty and staff members. The assembly was also attended by some parents, and translation services were provided for Spanish speakers. Everyone received a copy written in their native language.
This event is a follow-up to a previous ‘One District, One Book’ event held in October. Feedback throughout the district was largely positive. Parents emailed their schools reporting that they had fun reading to their children, and their kids were actually pressuring them into reading. The hope is that these events will give children a strong grounding in literacy.
“We’re hoping that families will develop a habit of reading to their children,” director of digital media and learning resources Patricia Alvarado said. “This is why we’re not having the children just read the books on campus. We really want this to be something that the families of Irving can share with their kids.
“My nine-year-old son was part of the ‘One District, One Book’ event in October. He loved it. I really enjoyed reading to him, and it was a lot of fun, having that bonding time. This event is supposed to remind us that learning is fun. We want to create a district where literacy is valued,” she said.
Statewide, over 100 elementary schools are participating, with over 50,000 families involved in the program. The program is based on similar programs employed by elementary school districts in Virginia and New York for years. Studies have indicated that these programs are linked to higher test scores and a general increase in an interest in literacy in students, according to the Texas Association of School Administrators.