Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett will launch the statewide Texas Reads One Book program on April 16 for the fourth consecutive year. Elementary students across Texas will simultaneously watch Garrett’s videotaped reading of the first chapter of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Then, for the next three weeks, the students will participate in lessons and activities related to the book at school while reading and discussing the book at home with their families.
This spring more than 50,000 families across Texas will participate in Texas Reads One Book, a TASA project coordinated by the nonprofit family literacy organization Read to Them with support from AASA | The School Superintendents Association.
One or more schools (mostly elementary schools) in the following school districts are participating this year: Amarillo, Alvarado, Athens, Bells, Burleson, Burton, Caldwell, Carrizo Springs, Celina, Center, Center Point, Claude, Coahoma, Covington, Crandall, Dallas, Driscoll, Dumas, Duncanville, Fabens, Galena Park, Georgetown, Gunter, Gustine, Hallettsville, Irving, Lake Dallas, Lake Travis, Livingston, Marathon, McGregor, Mission, Morgan, Natalia, Nederland, New Boston, Northside, O’Donnell, Olfen, Poteet, Princeton, Quinlan, Quitman, Ranger, Raymondville, Red Oak, Round Rock, Roxton, Savoy, Sheldon, Snook, Uvalde, Van, Vidor, and Westhoff. Compass Academy Charter School in Odessa is also participating.
(Participating schools and districts are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtag #TXReads1Book and tag @1school1book.)
Superintendents who have participated in Texas Reads One Book rave about the change that happens when elementary families across their districts engage in reading and discussing the same outstanding children’s book at the same time.
“I believe in Texas Reads One Book,” said Caldwell ISD Superintendent Andrew Peters. “The value of having the coach read the first chapter is impressive. Getting young boys to read is always a challenge, but the way this program is set up, it helps us reach the average fourth or fifth grade boy with good stories that are interesting.”
The program provides a powerful model for engaging parents because every student in participating schools receives a copy of the book. This encourages even reluctant readers and parents who don’t normally participate in school activities to get involved. Also, Spanish-language copies of the book are available for Spanish-speaking families.
“We all talk about needing more parent engagement,” says Irving ISD Superintendent José Parra, chair of the Texas Reads One Book Advisory Committee. “Texas Reads One Book has given us a mechanism to show parents how they can help their kids with their reading and have it be an enjoyable experience.”
Gary Anderson, founder of Read to Them, says that family-focused one-book programs can be “game changers” that engage teachers, students and parents and ignite systemic change that revolves around a love of learning rather than test scores. The excitement for reading generated among students and families continues long after the shared reading experience ends, he says, noting that districts in Virginia and New York that participated in similar programs for years have reported higher test scores and increased interest in reading among students.