Springdale Reads Brings Together Community To Create A Culture Of Love For Reading

Beginning in 2017, Springdale School District, a ForwARd Arkansas community, has placed an emphasis on creating a culture that fosters a love for reading in the community, in schools and at home. The Springdale Reads campaign represents a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, local government officials, non-profit workers and many others to make literacy a strong suit of the district and reading a constant companion in the lives of each student. The main goal of Springdale Reads is to ensure that all students are reading at an on-grade level (i.e. third graders reading at a third-grade level) and increased free reading time during class has been prioritized over reading instruction.[1] The goals for Springdale Reads include improving reading skills for students, building district-wide support for reading, involving families in reading, providing greater access to reading materials for all community members, and raising community awareness of the needs of our children in the area of reading.

“We had a family who had moved from Puerto Rico after the hurricane,” said Annette Freeman, principal at George Elementary School. “Their child was way behind in reading due to the family having to move after the storm and move back to take care of family members still in Puerto Rico. As a result, the child missed most of his kindergarten year. However, thanks to the support from Springdale Reads and ForwARd Arkansas, we put systems in place such as tutoring and a summer family reading academy to help this child learn to read!”

Since its inception, Springdale Reads has been met with great success. In 2018, it was declared an All-American City by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the National Civic League, one of only 15 communities nationwide to garner such an honor.[2] This success has been achieved through a number of strategies, implemented and tweaked as the program has evolved:

  1. New K-7 Springdale School District reading programs
  2. Intensive professional development in reading for staff members at our elementary and middle schools
  3. Increased number of books in classroom libraries for K-7
  4. Community-wide reading campaign including social media and billboards
  5. Back-to-school event for parents who received a book for each child, school supplies, immunization information, and information about community opportunities
  6. Funding for books for kindergarten classroom libraries in 2018, first grade classroom libraries in 2019, and plans to continue to grow classroom libraries for another grade each year
  7. At the Springdale School District Back-to-School Rally last September, staff members sported Springdale Reads t-shirts at a booth with activities for children and information for adults
  8. Junior high and high schools have launched a literacy campaign that also includes professional development for staff members

This program is a wonderful example of the hard work being done in the Springdale community to ensure each student is not only performing at grade level, but also developing a lifelong skill.