For the second annual Houston Reads Day, 400 volunteers read to pre-K and elementary students at Houston-area schools on Wednesday.
One of those volunteers was Houston Independent School District Superintendent Millard House II who joined a second-grade class at Bruce Elementary in Houston’s fifth ward.
The students connected with House right away as he shared his own struggles as a young reader with dyslexia and a speech impediment.
“It took me longer to understand things, so I really didn’t process reading words the way some of you all do until probably around third grade,” said House. “But you know what helped me get better?”
“Reading!” Several students replied.
“Reading is so important, even when you’re not very confident about it,” said House. “You have to try your best.”
House then read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, one of his favorite books, to the students who enthusiastically read aloud with the rhymes.
“The kids today were absolutely wonderful,” said House. “They’re extremely excited about having their superintendent here, but I think they’re going even more excited about having their mayor here. I’m extremely happy to partner today with the mayor and really emphasize the importance of literacy and reading.”
Bruce Elementary also welcomed Mayor Sylvester Turner and a few Houston Texans players for Houston Reads Day. The effort was started by the local nonprofit Literacy Now and aims to bring awareness to the literacy crisis in Houston.
Roughly 41% of Houston-area children are not ready for kindergarten, and 73% of third graders are not reading at grade level. The ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade is a significant predictor of high school graduation and other adverse outcomes, including serious behavior problems, joblessness, crime, and homelessness.
Literacy Now works to better those outcomes by empowering children and families through literacy, leadership, and life skills.
Bruce Elementary second-grade teacher Tanitra Robinson was very touched that the Superintendent shared his personal story with her students. She sees every day how dyslexia can impact a young learner.
“This actually gives us hope as teachers, and it gives our students hope that if I’m dyslexic and I grow up and be a superintendent, then what’s the limit for them?” said Robinson. “For them to actually see that real life, in-person, at this moment, it’s really a blessing.”
Houston Reads Day reached 14,000 pre-K through third-grade students at 31 schools in Houston ISD and Aldine ISD.