DESOTO—Reading isn’t always about the absorption of random facts and trivia. A good book can transport readers to far away vistas. Expose them to cultures and points of view unknown. Studies have shown that the best vehicles to these distant lands are literacy immersion programs like ‘Texas Reads One Book.’
Beginning April 3, DeSoto students along with schools statewide will read along with a streaming video of Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett. Starting at 9 a.m. Garrett will read the first chapter of The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies.
For the third straight year, Coach Garrett will launch the statewide ‘Texas Reads One Book’ program. Then their families will read and discuss the book together for a three-week period.
“The students follow along as Jason Garrett reads chapter one,” explains DeSoto ISD Reading Instructional Supervisor Monique Howard. “And it’s always in the Spring. The idea is then for the students to take the book home and read one chapter a night. There are activities that teachers do to tie in what they are doing at home.”
Participation in ‘Texas Reads One Book,’ a project of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) that is coordinated by the nonprofit family literacy organization ‘Read to Them’ with support from AASA. The School Superintendents Association, has doubled since the program’s introduction in 2015. More than 60,000 families across Texas will read The Lemonade War this spring.
“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.”
Families That Read Together
School administrators who have participated in ‘Texas Reads One Book’ rave about the change that happens when families engage in reading. The benefits double when these families are discussing the same children’s book at the same time.
“It’s really great to get the parents involved. Sharing that time together. Reading is very beneficial. It increases vocabulary, fluency and it helps with their comprehension. We want to really develop their overall love of reading. They need to be able to read for enjoyment as well as information and learning,” says Howard.
There are statistics that bolster Howard’s claims. According to the National Center for Education Statistics children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage.
Where parent involvement is low, the average classroom reading score is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.
Texas Reads One Book Activities
DeSoto students in grades 3rd through 5th will take home a copy of The Lemonade War. A letter will go home signed by Superintendent Dr. David Harris and each campus principal encouraging parents to take time each night reading and discussing the book with their students.
That morning students will either gather for a campus assembly or follow along in class via a live web stream.
This is the second year that DeSoto ISD has participated in the ‘Texas Reads One Book’ program. Parent participation was so high in 2015 that a district level spin off of the program was developed.
DeSoto ISD kicked off the 2016 ‘DeSoto Reads’ program in December. Dr. Harris read chapter one of The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary, with every student in grades 3-5 via video.
“We know reading is critical to academic success,” says Dr. Harris. “Reading in general and this group reading project will help reading comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. We also hope it will develop a love of reading in each student.”
Just like the Texas Reads Program students got their own copy to read a chapter each night with family members.
DeSoto ISD has a wealth of reading enrichment programs. From Summer Reading Program in coordination with the DeSoto Public Library to 2017 Literacy Program that is in the process of being revamped and rolled out in the coming months.