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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

“Read Around the Christmas Tree” event attracts over 1,500 children, parents, and volunteers

An estimated 1,500 people attending the “Read Around the Christmas Tree” event

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – You’ve got to admit, this is pretty cool. Volunteers reading to children, teaching them the importance of reading. It is very much a big deal with Shelby County Schools.

A big deal deserves a big gathering of students and parents. That’s what it got. An estimated 1,500 people attending the “Read Around the Christmas Tree” event. A place where young students –the little ones– got a chance to hear people from all over the area reading stories.

“What it’s doing is bringing about experiences,” says Family and Community Engagement Director Sunya Payne. “Exposure. And it’s giving them memories that will last a lifetime. As the readers read, they will discuss the characters. It’s an awesome time for our youth.”

The face of a child is a lie detector. They hide nothing. You can tell if they like something. You can tell if they don’t. They liked this program.a lot.

Shelby County Criminal Sessions Clerk Heidi Kuhn read to the children.

“I think it’s such a great thing for the kids that are so deserving,” Kuhn said, “and it’s really a way for people to give back to the community.”

They also heard from the Sheriff, the District Attorney, our own Katina Rankin. The school district is pushing reading to children. Board member Joyce Dorse-Coleman said, “This is just the beginning of many things in our district for our reading program to have everybody come out. bring a book, donate a book to a child after you read that book to a child. There can be no better program.”

The program also included young ones dancing on the stage and music. A day of education and entertainment isn’t bad when the weather is cold. Third grade student Mary Davenport was surprised by the big crowd. She said, “I  think it’s an exciting opportunity for us dancers and all types of departments at my school to get recognized by other people.”

The district has started a program where they are focused on reading for students in the early grades. Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray said, “We know that if students aren’t proficient in reading by the third grade, they are four times as likely to drop out. So, we want to galvanize the community and all of our parents and stakeholders to read to children every single day.”