Monday October 7, 2019

ReadOKC initiative building a love of reading

Building a culture takes time.

ReadOKC, an initiative of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Compact, has the mission to develop a culture of reading and promote the love of reading for our students and community. What has become very clear in the nearly three years since ReadOKC launched is that OKCPS students are responding in a big way.

Building a culture takes focus.

There are three primary objectives of ReadOKC, which include:

• ReadOKC organizes reading challenges during school breaks, with a goal for every student to read 20 minutes per day. OKCPS students have logged millions of minutes during school breaks, and the number of participants and those making the goal continue to grow.

• ReadOKC recruits caring adults to participate as Reading Buddies who have a weekly commitment to spend time with one student or a small group of students at their school once a week. They spend time reading, as well as providing mentorship that so many of our students need. Reading Buddies come primarily from the business community and faith-based community. AT&T recently placed 80 Reading Buddies in eight different schools and the faith-based community continues to step up. We currently have nearly 500 Reading Buddies working in our schools. Teachers report that this consistent relationship between students and Reading Buddies is making a huge difference in reading level improvement, attendance and behavior.

• ReadOKC improves access to reading materials for all of our children by providing Little Free Libraries throughout the city. There are currently 39 Little Libraries installed outside of OKCPS Elementary schools and in public parks throughout the school district.

Building a culture requires the celebration of successes.

Hawthorne Elementary School was recently recognized as the school with the highest average number of minutes read during the Summer Break Reading Challenge. Assemblies were held in nearly every elementary and middle school to celebrate students who made the goal of reading at least 20 minutes per day. Students who make their goal are rewarded with various incentives, including medals, provided by community partner Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine.

ReadOKC is much more than a reading program, it is a movement.

Over time, with sustained focus and celebrating successes along the way, ReadOKC will succeed in creating a culture of reading in our community. Reading well creates success in school and in life. Loving to read opens new worlds and creates endless opportunities. ReadOKC is a true partnership between the schools and the community and we hope you’ll join the movement!

Read Mary Mélon’s original Oklahoman editorial.

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