HISD Superintendent Millard House II, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and the Houston Texans’ Wade Smith were among 400 volunteers who read to students for the third annual Houston Reads Day.
The day is part of an ongoing effort led by local non-profit Literacy Now to bring awareness to the literacy crisis in Houston and empower children through reading.
“It really is a way for the kids to see that the community does care, that people who are strangers to them are coming in and investing their time in them,” said Literacy Now CEO Jacque Daughtry.
Roughly 41% of Houston-area children are not ready for kindergarten, and 73% of third graders are not reading at grade level. Literacy Now works with HISD to better those outcomes through intervention, mentoring, and equitable access.
Houston Reads Day falls on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and Superintendent House chose the classic Green Eggs and Ham to read to kindergarteners at Bruce Elementary School.
First, he shared his struggle with reading as a young learner.
“When I was in pre-K, kindergarten, and even in first grade, I was having a really tough time learning how to read, and I found out later on that I had something called dyslexia,” said House. “It kind of slows you down, but later on I got a lot of help from teachers just like your teachers that love you and respect you and want to see you do extremely well.”
The students stayed engaged as House read through the rhymes, pausing to let them enthusiastically finish each line.
As story time wrapped up, House shared some final words of encouragement.
“What you do every day is extremely important,” said House. “We want you in school every day, we want you learning every day, and—most importantly—we want you reading and practicing every day, not only here at school but at home. So read, read, read!”
Houston Reads Day reached 14,000 pre-K through third-grade students at 31 schools in Houston ISD and Aldine ISD.