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“The home connection is the most critical piece,” López says. “We are extending the learning directly into the home. The book engagement is happening at a district-wide level and is involving everyone—not just students and teachers.”

Making Literacy a Priority To build on the momentum created by Texas Reads One Book, Mission CISD launched a summer reading initiative on May 19. Seven thousand students gathered at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission, cheering as López and other community leaders kicked off the celebration. School leaders dressed as book characters, and appearances by Clifford, Alice in Wonderland, and the Tin Woodman from The Wizard of Oz added to the festive nature of the event.

book’s first chapter. They also plan to again participate in the Texas Reads One Book program next spring. One of the key components of ODOB is making reading a shared activity across the community. “Reading is often a private act,” says López. “This gives us an opportunity to start a dialog and discuss what we are reading. It’s an opportunity to get excited about reading.” In terms of funding, Mission CISD has made a priority of literacy-related initiatives such as ODOB. “We start with the premise that

kids are learning to read in the early grades,” López says. “Then they move to reading to learn. Finally, they move to reading to lead.” He notes that developing deep literacy skills will help children develop critical thinking skills, become leaders, and gain success in their later careers. “We have already seen a significant impact,” López says.“I implore other superintendents to take the torch and lead literacy initiatives in their districts. We are here to create the highest literacy rates in the world, and that makes it easy to make our choices about what projects to support.” n

The celebration built excitement for the summer reading program, López says. Each student received two books to take home and read during the summer — one nonfiction and one fiction — according to grade level.The goal is to promote reading during summer vacation to prevent students from experiencing “summer slide” and losing skills while out of school. López sees the ODOB program as an integral part of the district’s literacy initiatives moving forward. He and assistant superintendent Criselda Valdez will kick off the district-wide reading of another book this fall by doing a videotaped reading of the

Photos courtesy Mission CISD

Mission CISD Board of Trustees member Patricia O’Cana-Olivarez reads with her daughter during the kickoff of the district’s summer reading program May 19.

The ODOB program is used in districts and schools across the United States and Canada. Read to Them, the program’s creator, has been designated a School Solutions Center partner by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. In Texas, TASA serves as a partner for Texas Reads One Book. To learn how your district can get involved, visit www.readtothem.org. For first-hand information, attend Read to Them’s session about Texas Reads One Book during the TASA/TASB Convention October 2-4 in Austin. López and Valdez will discuss Mission CISD’s participation, and Read to Them Founder Gary Anderson will describe how superintendents can set the tone for literacy instruction in their districts. Also plan to visit the ODOB booth at the convention.

LOOK FOR READ TO THEM AT THE TASA/TASB CONVENTION IN AUSTIN, OCTOBER 2–4! SUMMER 2015

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INSIGHT—Summer 2015  
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