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Read Across America features local leaders, partners reading via video

By now, we’re accustomed to many school traditions and celebrations looking differently since the pandemic began nearly one year ago. Add “Read Across America” Day to that list of events impacted, but Denton ISD transitioned, sharing almost 30 videos of local leaders reading to students and for teachers to use in their classroom instruction. Recordings were submitted in both English and Spanish.

With many publishers extending their permissions for read-aloud events and video recordings of their titles, combined with concerns of having volunteers enter our school buildings, business leaders and institutions from across the Denton community answered the call to provide virtual content.

This year, Denton ISD’s schools celebrated the joys of reading by inviting the district’s Adopt-A-School partners to share their favorite children’s book via video.

Celebrated the week of March 1 - 5, this year’s videos provided by community partners such as UNT Athletics, Embassy Suites - Denton Convention Center, DCTA, and others, featured volunteers reading English and Spanish children’s books.

For our staff, pivoting to a virtual format allowed the district to keep the event on the calendar while maintaining health/safety protocols. By doing so, everyone accustomed to this event, both Face-to-Face and ConnectedLearners, continued the celebration of reading.

“A huge thank you to our partners,” said Melissa Leonard, librarian at E.P. Rayzor Elementary. “I shared some of the videos with a second-grade class earlier, and they were so excited to see football and basketball players.”

Others enjoyed the variety of books read virtually by many of our local community partners.

“I love the diversity of the books and readers, and the ones from DCTA that all represent transportation are perfect,” said Michelle McClanahan, librarian at Houston Elementary.

Community partners adjusted a virtual format smoothly as well, even using it as a corporate team building tool.

“Glad we could participate this year,” said Ashley Kidd, Human Resources Manager, at the Embassy Suites - Denton Convention Center. “Looking forward to next year and being back at schools for in-person readings.”

One of the many highlights for our students annually is the opportunity to see athletes from the University of North Texas visiting their schools. Although in-person visits are not currently permitted by visitors on our campuses, many of our elementary-aged students still were able to see those athletes virtually thanks to this new format.

“Our students are so excited about this project,” Alic’a Oliver, Director of Compliance with University of North Texas Athletics. “They’ve missed seeing the smiling faces of students they read to throughout the school year in the past.”