On April 11, 2016, tens of thousands of Texas students and their families will kick off a statewide celebration of literacy called Texas Reads One Book when students simultaneously watch a videotaped reading of the first chapter of Charlotte’s Web by Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett.
“We all talk about needing more parent engagement, but most educators struggle with how to get parents engaged,” says José Parra, superintendent of Irving ISD, one of dozens of Texas school districts participating in the program. “Parents want to be helpful. We just have to show them how. Texas Reads One Book 2016 has given us a mechanism to show parents how they can work with their kids and help, and have it also be an enjoyable experience.”
Across the state, more than 50,000 families in more than 100 elementary schools will all read Charlotte’s Web at the same time, making reading the hot topic of conversation in communities statewide for nearly a month. In addition to Irving, participating school districts include Abilene, Alief, Alvarado, Anderson-Shiro, Arlington, Brownsville, Burton, Celina, Chapel Hill ISD, Corsicana, Frisco, Galena Park, Gunter, Highland Park, Ingleside, La Grange, Lake Dallas, Lake Worth, Lamar, Leverett’s Chapel, Lyford, Marfa, Meadow, Mineral Wells, Mission, Nacogdoches, Navasota, Pawnee, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Pine Tree, San Felipe Del Rio, Santa Maria ISD, Savoy, Teague, Terrell, Tornillo, Vernon, Westhoff, Wilson, and Ysleta. Individual campuses in the following districts are also participating: Amarillo, Big Sandy, Burleson, Clarksville, Covington, Crane, Dumas, Ector County, Fabens, Georgetown, Grape Creek, Harlandale, Midway (12), Northside, Poteet, Spearman, Spring, Tomball, and Uvalde. (Participating schools and districts are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtags #TXROB and #texasreadsonebook.)
For the second consecutive year, Garrett will kick off this statewide family literacy initiative. His videotaped reading of the first chapter of Charlotte’s Web will be streamed to participating schools statewide at 9 a.m. on April 11. “If you want to become a better football player, you have to practice,” says Garrett in the video. “If you want to become a better reader, you have to practice. It’s fun to read! It’s fun to find out about these characters and many others.”
Texas Reads One Book offers a powerful model for engaging parents in family literacy activities. Through the program, every elementary family in participating schools receives a copy of the book, meaning that even reluctant readers and parents who don’t normally participate in school activities get involved. Spanish-language copies of Charlotte’s Web are available for Spanish-speaking families.
By stimulating family involvement in the reading process and boosting student engagement with books, the Texas Reads One Book program can contribute to breaking the cycle of illiteracy and poverty. Reports from districts in Virginia and New York that have used the “one book” model for several years indicate higher test scores and increased interest in reading among students.
Texas Reads One Book is a project of TASA, with support from the nonprofit family literacy organization Read to Them and The School Superintendents Association (AASA). For more information contact Texasreads@readtothem.org. Visit http://readtothem.org/programs/texas-reads-one-book-video/ to view a video featuring introductory comments by José Parra and Bonny Urschel, followed by Jason Garrett’s reading of the first chapter of Charlotte’s Web.