This year, Family Literacy Night at Burbank Middle School was very special. Throughout September and October, students, staff, and community members all read Christopher Healy’s “The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.” Then they got together on Family Literacy Night to discuss the book and had a rare opportunity to take the discussion directly to Healy, who was the night’s special guest.
“I feel really privileged to be a part of this event,” Healy said. “From the point of view of an author, it’s unbelievable. It’s amazing that all of these kids and teachers read my book. It’s not that they’ve all just read it, but that it’s become a point of discussion in the school. People have been telling me that students are talking about it in the hallways, and teachers are discussing the characters and plotlines outside of class. That’s an amazing feeling for me — the idea of a whole school rallying around one book and the way it supports literacy.”
The school created a personal relationship with Healy throughout the semester, and each person who attended Family Literacy Night received their own signed copy of his book.
Having the entire school community participate in the reading exercise has garnered amazing results, according to Burbank Middle School Principal Rosa Hernandez.
“The kids are enjoying the book and engaging in wonderful conversations,” said Hernandez. “When we walk in the hallways, we can talk the same language using the same vocabulary. The experience has helped instill a love of reading among our students.”
Students, faculty, staff, and community members received their own copy of the novel, which allowed the Burbank family to participate in schoolwide read-alouds and annotation, as they connected the wide range of themes throughout the novel.
Parent Adriana Castillo noticed the change in her daughter’s attitude toward reading. “She’s finding the stories interesting, and that is making her want to read more in class,” Castillo said.
The evening included performances by the school’s drum corps, cheerleading squad, ballet folklorico dancers, and more. Students and parents enjoyed booths and activities that reinforced the joy of literacy. Staff dressed up as characters from the book and, in keeping with the theme of the evening, students participated in a rousing tournament of skateboard jousting.
The 12th annual Family Literacy Night also celebrated HISD’s Literacy by 3 movement, which kicked off this fall to ensure all of Houston ISD’s students will be reading on grade level by third grade.