Literacy is so important to HISD’s newly formed Student Congress that the organization has already created its own mentoring program.
“Bring a Book” got its start last September, when Congress members began brainstorming ideas for possible service projects. After agreeing to focus on literacy, the group decided to pair high-school students with second-graders to develop the younger children’s reading comprehension skills.
“Low literacy rates are a systemic issue,” explained Congress member Juliana Dunn (Carnegie Vanguard HS). “This city’s future depends upon the promise of an educated, informed citizenry. Parents should read with their kids 20 minutes a night, but not every parent has the time or means to do that. So it has to start in school, and in programs like Bring a Book.”
In an arrangement very similar to HISD’s Read Houston Read program—which serves first-grade students through community volunteers—the high-school students act as tutors, mentors, and friends to the elementary students, reading for an hour with the second-graders once a week.
Congress members already have partnerships in place between Carnegie Vanguard High School and the Gregory Lincoln Education Center, Bellaire High School and Benavidez Elementary School, and North Houston Early College High School and Roosevelt Elementary School, and partnerships with more elementary schools are underway. At least 10 of the targeted elementary schools are also participating in Read Houston Read, for a double dose of literacy mentoring.
“Kids need role models and listeners,” explained Dunn. “It’s easy for a second-grade student to fail a reading test and then say, ‘All right. Well, I guess I’m not good at that, so I just won’t read.’ It’s much harder for a child to give up on herself when she has a big kid by her side, helping her sound out words, letting her know how important it is that she keep trying.”
For more information on HISD’s literacy programs, please visit the HISD website.