For the third straight year, Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett will launch the statewide Texas Reads One Book program. On April 3, elementary students across Texas will simultaneously watch Garrett’s videotaped reading of the first chapter of The Lemonade War. 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.
“One of the things we talk about all the time here with the Dallas Cowboys is if you want to become a better football player, you have to practice,” said Coach Garrett in kicking off last year’s program. “If you want to become a better reader, you have to practice. It’s fun to read. Read by yourself; read with your family. But just read.”
Participation 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, has doubled since its introduction in 2015. More than 60,000 families across Texas will read The Lemonade War this spring.
One or more schools (mostly elementary schools) in the following school districts are participating this year: Alief, Alvarado, Amarillo, Angleton, Aquilla, Bells, Boles, Borden County, Burleson, Burton, Caldwell, Carrizo Springs, Celina, Center, Center Point, Claude, Channelview, Chapel Hill, Chireno, Coleman, Corpus Christi, Corsicana, Covington, Crandall, Crowell, Dallas, De Leon, DeSoto, Dilley, Driscoll, Dumas, Fabens, Galena Park, Georgetown, Godley, Gorman, Gunter, Gustine, Hallettsville, Hitchcock, Huntsville, Irving, Lake Dallas, Lazbuddie, Meadow, Mesquite, Mineral Wells, Mission, Navasota, New Boston, Northside, Northwest, Olfen, Plains, Poteet, Quitman, Raymondville, Ricardo, Round Rock, San Benito, San Perlita, Santa Maria, Savoy, Schulenburg, Sheldon, Snook, Somerset, Sunray, Teague, Tomball, Trent, Uvalde, Valentine, Valley Mills, Victoria, Vidor, West Sabine, Westbrook, Westhoff, Wink-Loving, and Wylie (10). Also participating are Advantage Academy in Duncanville and Fellowship Christian Academy in Dallas. (Participating schools and districts are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtag #TROB 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.
“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.”
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.
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.