‘All Suffolk Reads’ program looks to improve literacy

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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Suffolk Public Schools has partnered with All District Reads to launch the “All Suffolk Reads” program beginning Oct. 21.

On that day, students and their families in all of Suffolk’s elementary schools read and discuss together the children’s book “Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire,” by Sundee T. Frazier over several weeks.

SPS is the first local school system to partner with All District Reads. The model focuses on building excitement around reading by getting school divisions to have children and their families read two books together annually.

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Founded by veteran educator and literacy promoter Gary Anderson, All District Reads is a Virginia-based nonprofit organization devoted to Lighting Literacy Fires’ among families.

“We think getting children to read for pleasure is the missing piece of the puzzle,” said SPS Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III in a news release. “We are so excited to partner with All District Reads.”

Students receive their books and watch a videotaped reading of the first chapter from Gordon at launch day events Oct. 21 for All Suffolk Reads. Other school officials, business leaders and members of local Rotary clubs are participating in community activities that support the concept of family literacy.

Through the program, families read and discuss one chapter each night from the book for a period of three and a half weeks. Schools support the program with trivia contests, spirit activities, and many surprises. In addition, Nutrition Services hosts weekly café events where participating students will win prizes. At a culminating event Nov. 18, a few lucky students will win larger prizes donated by local businesses/organizations.

Both of Suffolk’s Rotary clubs and local businesses provided funding so that each elementary family across Suffolk Public Schools receive their own copy of the first book: “Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire.”

Families also receive a free resource guide along with the book. The goal is to help children develop a love of reading by stimulating family reading and discussion of books.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the next to launch programs under the All VB Reads banner next spring, with other school divisions in discussions to launch the program.

To learn more about the All Suffolk Reads program, contact Melvin Bradshaw at melvinbradshaw@spsk12.net, and to learn more about All District Reads, go to alldistrictreads.org.