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Reading program will have Richmond students, families on the same page

read to them richmondOne Richmond, One Book is a city-wide reading event for thousands of students, their families and the entire Richmond community.

“It’s a reading program to increase literacy for all — the students, their families, school staff and the community,” says Read to Them Executive Director John Dwyer. “We’re very excited as it’s the first time we are working with all Richmond public elementary schools at once. We’ll be starting our first One Richmond, One Book reading event on Monday, October 22. To support the program, we’re seeking donors large and small – even sponsors for a single student. We’re also seeking volunteers to work directly with students and parents when the program kicks into action.”

“One Richmond, One Book is poised to help the City of Richmond improve elementary level literacy by promoting community and family involvement,” says Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “I join Read to Them in supporting the One Richmond, One Book program in their belief that when children become successful readers at an early age, academic success follows — increasing high school graduation rates and ensuring the continued economic viability of our community.”

“Programs like One Richmond, One Book are the heart and soul of this community,” says Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras. “They support quality instruction, they uplift our schools and our students and they help build a sense of community. I can’t wait to get into classrooms and join our students as they read this book.”

The first One Richmond, One Book title is Friendship According to Humphrey, by Betty G. Birney. On the designated kickoff day, all city elementary students will be involved in school and community events and each student will receive a copy of the same book to take home. Each evening they’ll read a chapter with their families — the same chapter every other elementary student in Richmond will be reading with their families. “Our reading schedule will take about 15 minutes each night,” says Dwyer, “putting the entire community literally on the same page. Their reading will be augmented with classroom activities, trivia contests, prizes and family reading events. Our sponsors and volunteers will support the schools with assemblies, family literacy nights, after school programs, whatever each school might need to be successful.”

Some Richmond schools have already experienced One School, One Book and they are looking forward to the city-wide opportunity. They love the way it builds community. “It was like being part of a family. It made students happy and excited that even adults were involved. It connected us,” says Broad Rock Elementary Title 1 Reading Specialist LaShonda DeBrill. “This has encouraged lively dialogue and interaction among students, parents and staff,” says Patrick Henry Principal Dr. Eileen Atkinson. “Teachers have seen improved comprehension and confidence in our students as a result of this program.”

Read to Them is in this for the long haul. “Our goal is to do this every year, enabling students and families to read multiple titles each year,” says Dwyer. “We’ll cap off their school year with a book giveaway to keep up interest over the summer.”

One School, One Book is sponsored by the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, Anthony F. Markel and RBC Wealth Management. Interested in volunteering? Please contactcarter.brown@readtothem.org. Interested in being a sponsor? Please contact cathy.plageman@readtothem.org.

Read to Them is a Richmond-based non-profit promoting family literacy. A growing body of research shows that children who are read to learn to read more easily and become better readers. Literacy skills provide the basis for a lifetime of learning and productivity. For more information visit onerichmondonebook.org.