2021 SISD Read Across America | Photo courtesy SISD
During the annual National Education Association’s Read Across America celebration, Socorro Independent School District students, teachers, and staff showcased their love of reading, while highlighting the importance of diversity in literature.
Socorro ISD celebrated reading with an eventful week of special guest readings, activities, and dress up days.
District officials share that many high schools worked alongside their feeder schools and school librarians coordinated together to tackle the new task of conducting events online so students could continue their love of reading despite health and safety restrictions.
Hurshel Antwine Middle School librarian Alexa Hash also was happy to work alongside other schools within the El Dorado feeder to promote literacy among SISD students.
“For libraries it’s definitely been a year of adjustment with the pandemic and going mostly virtual, but I really still wanted to have Read Across America be an important event that anybody could participate in,” she said.
They had special guest speakers from the district read to different grade levels including Superintendent Dr. Jose Espinoza, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Cindy Retana, and Chief Technology Officer Hector Reyna.
“We were honored and humbled that we had such amazing people from the district read to our students virtually because we want our students to feel supported and also have reading role models,” Hash said.
This year’s Read Across America theme was a celebration of diversity, and so that was the focus of their reading selection.
“It was important for the kids to enjoy the story, but we were also promoting diversity and helping the kids understand that in reading you can be seen, and you can see others for who they really are and find that common understanding, that common ground as people,” Hash said. “Hopefully, that’ll spark more interest in them to read other books like that or continue their own journey in their love of reading.”
Hurshel Antwine seventh grader Anais Valentin said her favorite part of the event was reading her book of choice, “El Chupacabras”, to the younger students and seeing their smiles. She also understood the important message of diversity and inclusion.
“It’s important to read and learn about diversity because people are different and that’s okay,” she said. “Everyone needs to understand that we’re all different and it’s important to respect our differences. Things like reading about other people’s cultures helps us have a better understanding of who they are.”
Other diverse books students opted to read from included “The Yellow Star” and “Julian is a Mermaid.”
The Montwood feeder area had their annual RAMS Initiative, in which high school students who are part of the Texas Association of Future Educators program read to future Rams at the elementary and middle schools.
“It’s an effort that seeks to provide an opportunity for our kids to get together with both current and future Rams,” said Don Kirk, Montwood High School library media specialist. “Overall, I think it turned out very well.”
This year they conducted their Read Across America event for two days on a Microsoft Teams channel that continued all day for anybody who wished to join. They offered readings in both English and Spanish, with the TAFE students rotating among themselves to read to the younger students throughout the day.
Kirk said his favorite part of the event was how fun it was to see the reaction of the younger students and their excitement over being read to.
“Reading is a cool thing to do, and I think that in today’s society everything is designed for a quick hit and glimpse at something for instant gratification, but in reading the key is that the student develops some type of interest with the topic,” Kirk said.
The Socorro feeder area had a weeklong celebration in honor of Read Across America, from read-alouds, to dress up days, and fun activities.
Margarita Zavala-Murphy, Hueco Elementary librarian, along with the other librarians within the Socorro area selected a book to read, presented a synopsis, and created an interactive activity to do with the kids that tied into their book.
She chose to read “Be You” to the fourth-grade class she was assigned to read to.
“Every one of us is unique and has something to celebrate about ourselves no matter who or what you are, you are special in every way,” Zavala-Murphy said. “Just be who you are, be unique because there is no one else like you.”
Zavala-Murphy said it was important to make it fun and interactive for the kids, so that they stay engaged and excited about reading.
“I always look forward to Read Across America because I just really like reading,” said Jacob Bernal, a fourth-grade student at Hueco Elementary. “Reading is important because it can teach us a lot of new words and some books teach morals.”