Houston Texans Tackle Reading with story time with a football star, donating to home libraries

Law Elementary students welcomed surprise visitors on Friday, March 1, when representatives from the Houston Texans, including former Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, came to participate in a reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham to celebrate the eighth annual Tackle Reading Day.

Tackle Reading is a national literacy event founded by author Kathryn Starke, a former elementary school teacher and literacy consultant. Tackle Reading combines the National Football League, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Random House Children’s Books and others to encourage literacy and get children excited about reading. NFL teams and alumni donate their time to visit schools and read to students, and publishing partners donate books that students can keep and add to their home libraries.

“The focus of today is to celebrate reading and to encourage students to read, to help raise literacy rates and to encourage them to sharpen all of the skills that will help them with testing and other things in their life,” said Valencia Webber, Senior Community Development Manager for the Houston Texans. “HISD has been an amazing partner for us, allowing us to visit different campuses and telling us the needs of the students and the different communities that we serve. We’re really excited about all the upcoming events and initiatives that we’re going to put forward with HISD.”

Tackle Reading coincides with Houston Reads Day, a day where community members (including HISD Superintendent Mike Miles) volunteer to read to Pre-K and kindergarten students throughout the city.

“We’re ecstatic to have [the Houston Texans] as a continued partner as we work to maximize resources to support student achievement across all areas,” said Cherranda Smith, Coordinator with HISD Community Partnerships. “For the Tackle Reading event, we have a legend, a former player, reading to our students, getting them engaged in books. Through this partnership, we’re hoping to help students build their home libraries which we know goes to support long-lasting achievement in literacy among our kids.”

Mitchell entertained pre-K and Kindergarten students at Law reading Green Eggs and Ham, which quickly turned into a game of call and response, students chanting “Eat it! Eat it!” at the laughing pro athlete as Sam-I-Am finally convinced the narrator to try his questionably colored food.

After the story, the Law students were gifted a Dr. Seuss book of their own, Fox in Socks to grow their own book collections at home. Read about HISD’s partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation and the My Home Library initiative here, and visit the Community Partnerships website to learn more about how our community partners are working to help HISD students close the achievement gap.