Harlingen CISD kicks off family literacy programs

Numbers of people who cannot read are staggering and that's why school districts are pushing summer reading to get the younger generations on the right track before they become part of the alarming statistics.

Promoting literacy is the name of the game during Harlingen CISD's summer reading program kickoff.

Students showed up at the administration building to have books read to them and have the opportunity to get in on the action by reading to Ocho and Lulu, therapy dogs who also spend time at the Harlingen library listening to kids read without judging them.

It's the school district and community's way of keeping the students engaged in reading during the summer months when school is not in session.

"Over the summer students get behind. They lose it when they're not practicing," said Dr. Laura Sheneman, HCISD Coordinator of Library Services.

Statistics show that nearly 50 percent of people 25 and older in the valley lack basic literacy skills.

That's a number Harlingen CISD hopes to change as they promote incentives for children throughout the summer to open a book.

"We're letting them log hours during the summer. They can pick up a form at the administration building. As they get reading hours, they become eligible for prizes including a Kindle Fire," said Sheneman.

Alexander Castillo says it's a no brainer.

"My parents always encourage me to read."

He's in the 5th grade and already a top reader in his entire school.

"It's the most books ever read at the school and I'm basically competing against myself," said Castillo.

HCISD will hold the weeklong kickoff event including a book fair with the goal of getting kids and their parents in the spirit of reading as they prepare for another school year.

"Many times in our culture, the parents can't read so the family needs to find a way to make reading relevant for the future generations and while they are helping their children, the parents will be learning as well," said Sheneman.

Everyday this week at 4:30pm someone from the community will read to the children who show up at the HCISD administration building.

You can also shop for books with the children at the same location from 10:30am until 7pm everyday this week.

All proceeds go to bringing authors into schools to speak to the students.