Friday March 18, 2022

For the Love of Reading

Last week marked a major milestone for ReadOKC, the OKCPS Compact’s reading and literacy initiative run by the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation. The ReadOKC On the Go Mobile Book Bus has officially given away more than 10,000 books to students in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

ReadOKC was the Compact’s first initiative, launched in 2017 with the mission to instill a love of reading in our students and community. That mission is driven by three strategic objectives: Organizing reading challenges during school breaks and giving students the goal to read at least 20 minutes per day; Connecting caring adults with students as reading buddies to read with and mentor them; Providing access to reading materials via Little Libraries and the ReadOKC On the Go Mobile Book Bus.

Each of the three objectives have seen tremendous growth in the past five years. There have been more than 24 million minutes read in reading challenges and more than 37,000 students have met the goal of reading 20 minutes per day.

More than 500 Reading Buddies were actively visiting schools pre-COVID. The numbers dropped as volunteers went virtual, but reading/mentoring continues.

There is a Little Library at every school in the district, PreK-High School, and each is being stewarded and filled with books by community volunteers.

And, the ReadOKC On the Go Mobile Book Bus has made 41 visits and driven in two parades – providing 10,000 students with the opportunity to enter the bus, select the book of their choice and take it home to keep.

We all know that learning to read is a fundamental skill that is the basis for success in school. There is extensive data on the science of reading and the best ways for our educators to teach these valuable skills. In addition to those skills, having the involvement of family members and the support of the community is also critical.

Reading develops language skills, social skills and improves hand-eye coordination. Reading also opens new worlds and develops imagination, allowing the reader to be lost in whatever genre the book takes them, be it historical fiction, fantasy or the biography of a famous sports figure or a book about science, math or coding.  This ties directly to ReadOKC’s mission of instilling a love of reading and the role our community plays in developing this love.

We count on our educators to teach phonics and the practical skills of reading. ReadOKC can help support their work by understanding what helps make kids love reading:

They read when they are recognized.

They read when they are encouraged.

They read when they are allowed to choose what interests them.

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