Abracadabra! A magical month of reading for elementary students across Northampton recently ended with a recorded magic show. Students and their families had been reading the book EllRay Jakes Is Magic through the All Northampton Reads program. In the book, third-grader EllRay Jakes overcomes various obstacles to perform magic tricks at a school talent show, and Mr. Dyas from Kiptopeke Elementary School recreated the tricks at a closing event to mark the completion of the book, with help from Reading Instructional Coach Susan Camden.
Northampton County Public Schools launched this innovative program in partnership with Norfolk-based nonprofit All District Reads. Funding from the Cape Charles Rotary Club and the Northampton County Education Foundation allowed each family in both of Northampton’s elementary schools to receive their own copy of EllRay Jakes is Magic, along with a free family reading guide.
To further spread the magic, nearly 30 Community Guest Readers read chapters of the book, some in English and some in Spanish. Community Guest Readers came from the Virginia State Police, Northampton County Sheriff’s office, Eastern Shore Rural Health, Northampton County Education Foundation, Cape Charles Rotary, and the Exmore Police Department, along with Northampton County School Board members, principals, assistant principals, central office staff, and NCPS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Martin.
The ADR model focuses on building excitement around reading by getting school systems to read two children’s chapter books together annually. Families and educators alike praised the program. “Opportunities such as these spark the fires of family engagement, the love of reading, and the importance of lifelong literacy,” said Martin.
A third-grade teacher at Occohannock Elementary School noted, “This book brought the magic of reading back into my classroom. Students were able to connect their reading at home with the activities we completed in school. It was great to see them foster their learning both inside and outside of school.” “The Magic of Literacy brings families together,” concluded Camden.
Throughout the program, families read and discussed one chapter each night from the book. Schools built interest with trivia contests, special activities, and other surprises. NCPS thanks the Community Readers, Community Sponsors, and All District Reads for making the magic of reading possible through All Northampton Reads.
The All District Reads concept is spreading across southeastern Virginia. This spring, elementary students in Suffolk Public Schools also read EllRay Jakes is Magic in March, as did fifth-grade students in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. All three districts plan to run the program again this fall, with Virginia Beach planning have all K-5 students participate. In addition, Norfolk Public Schools and Chesapeake Public Schools recently have signed up to participate in future All District Reads programs. At that point, ADR will impact more than 65,000 families.
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