Suffolk Public Schools launch innovative family reading program

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Few things are more magical for a child than the shared reading of a book. And for those elementary students just learning the complexities of reading, the read aloud experience can be life changing.

Reading aloud with children opens new connections with their lives and informs their view of themselves and others,

On Oct. 21, Suffolk Public Schools launched the All Suffolk Reads program to spark students’ reading interest and ability by getting all elementary families to read and discuss the same children’s book at the same time. The program is run in partnership with the nonprofit organization All District Reads.

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The Rotary Clubs in Suffolk championed the project, raising the funds, labeling the books and handing them out to students, according to local Rotarians.

Elementary school teachers are charged with the task of ensuring the youngest readers learn how to read. Suffolk Public Schools English Language Arts coordinator Lakeesha McCoy believes that learning how to read must be integrated with a love for reading.

“Our partnership with All District Reads provides a bridge between these essential aspects of reading,” McCoy said.

As the first local school district to participate under the All District Reads model, Suffolk Public Schools launched the local brand, All Suffolk Reads, on Friday, Oct. 21. Students and their families will read “Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire,” by Sundee T. Frazier together over several weeks.

“Parents should be on the look-out for the books to come home on the 21st,” McCoy said, “along with an informational brochure to support the read-aloud experience at home.”  Some key features of the All Suffolk Reads initiative include:

  • Students and families get to keep the ADR book with the expectation that families will read one chapter of the book together each evening, according to the schedule provided in the family brochure.
  • The next school day, there will be trivia contests and other activities related to the book chapter.
  • The fall All Suffolk Reads event will be followed by the reading of a different All Suffolk Reads book in the spring.

Suffolk Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III highlighted the district’s focus on improving reading outcomes and supporting reading in the home.

“We think getting children to read for pleasure is the missing piece of the puzzle. We are so excited to partner with All District Reads,” he said.

All District Reads was born out of a belief in the power of the read aloud experience and its potential to bring together families and community members around a common vision for literacy, according to a news release.

ADR Founder and Executive Director Gary Anderson has a long-held passion for the read aloud experience. This passion has been the driving force for bringing together the many pieces for creating a culture of family reading across a school community.

“There’s an education adage that goes, “What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn,” said read-aloud advocate Jim Trelease, author of the bestselling book “The Read Aloud Handbook.”