It is story time at Eastern Hills Elementary and each book is part of a powerful mission.
The program is called ‘Read Fort Worth’ and it’s why the team from NBCDFW spent Tuesday reading to third graders.
According to the Fort Worth Independent School Distric, only about one in three third graders is currently reading at grade level and that age is critical. It’s when the focus turns from learning how to read to reading to learn in other subjects.
The goal of ‘Read Fort Worth’ is to have 100 percent of third graders reading on grade level by 2025, but the burden can not be solely on the district.
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“It’s not just about the schools. It’s about what the community does,” said Read Fort Worth Executive Director Kristin Sullivan. “Little children want our attention and they love storytelling. It’s really about adult behavior and our investment for the future.”
The program is looking for volunteers who can commit to reading to children 45 minutes a week. Right now, the program has 1,100 volunteers but 16,000 kids who could benefit from a reading buddy.
“We have amazing volunteers, but we need more,” said Eastern Hills Elementary Principal Whitney Scott. "They need to see other people be passionate about reading."
The hope is strong readers will grow into strong leaders and create a powerful workforce for Fort Worth.
Already, nine-year-old Alexander Vavquez has caught on to the program's mission.
“It makes your brain smarter,” said Vavquez. “Without reading people won’t know how to build structures and buildings and new things throughout the city.”
To volunteer or learn more, visit ReadFortWorth.org.