EPISD teachers were joined by community leaders, military personnel, university students, news personalities and other stakeholders to instill the love of reading in students during the second annual Read Across the District event.
Deputy Superintendent Ivonne Durant kicked off the districtwide event at Guillen Middle School with Trustee Charles Taylor, Commissioner Carlos Leon, EPISD administrators, Lucha Libre wrestlers, firefighters and dozens more community members.
“Research says reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning,” Durant told a crowd of community members and students at Guillen. “It builds strong literacy skills like vocabulary and phonics. It helps with brain development and language skills.”
Durant encouraged Guillen students to read to their younger siblings and cousins and share their love of reading. “As little as 15 minutes a day reaps the benefit for children that will last a lifetime,” Durant said. “And it adds up: 15 minutes a day for five years is over 450 hours.”
She also reminisced about her days as a child in Mexico with her father who inspired her to be a lifelong reader.
“He read a lot,” she said. “He would take out the encyclopedia and read and during dinner we would talk about what he read.”
Being read to as a child, gives children at an early age an advantage over those children not read to – especially as they enter kindergarten.
“Children develop a life-long love of reading and bond with parents who share their love of reading,” Durant said.
Tim Holt, executive director of Blended Learning, also spoke at the kick off and commended students for reading more than previous generations – but not in the traditional way their parents and grandparents read. He explained that research shows it takes more skills to decode text than words on a printed page.
“Older folks say kids aren’t reading – all they do is sit around in front of a screen all day,” Holt said. “Well I want to put that myth to rest. Kids aren’t reading what we were – not on a printed page but they are reading all day long.”
Other RAD activities included reading contests at high schools and pajama day reading. Austin High School challenged students to see if they could collectively read one million words in 30 minutes.
Check out tweets about RAD at #episdrad. And for pictures of the RAD kickoff, visit the EPISD Gallery at www.episd.org/community_engagement/photo_gallery.php