We’re excited to introduce our new Real Reads literacy program, which we’re expanding to Dallas this week! Modeled on our long-running Reading Rock Stars program, Real Reads aims to inspire the love of reading in Texas middle and high school students from underserved groups.
The program gives space for Real Reads students to read and talk about books that speak to challenges affecting their lives, whether it’s discrimination, mental health, family relations, or identity. With the help of the schools’ teachers and mentors, we guide the conversation to focus on their experiences as students and teens in 2019 and help prepare what they will share with the author in their private session. The author session not only focuses on writing craft and storytelling, but also gives students a forum to share their concerns and triumphs, and the opportunity to hear the author’s personal story of overcoming their own struggles.
“Just as with Reading Rock Stars, Real Reads is more than a presentation or school visit. It’s a student-led close read of a current, relevant book, and a focused, personal conversation with an author.”
—Lea Bogner, TBF Outreach Manager
In 2017, we held our pilot Real Reads events at the Texas Book Festival with 150 Austin high schoolers, who read and responded to Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel The Hate U Give, followed by a special session with the author. At the 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival, award-winning author Jason Reynolds presenting his novel Long Way Down to 75 students. In 2018, we saw the program grow, as bestselling author Nic Stone met with 125 Real Reads students at the Texas Teen Book Festival to discuss her book Dear Martin, and award-winning author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson presented Harbor Me to 300 Real Reads students at the Texas Book Festival.
Now, with generous funding from the AT&T Foundation, we’re looking forward to our first Real Reads program in Dallas/Fort Worth with bestselling author Erika Sanchez presenting her novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. We can’t wait to see this program grow and expand to reach and inspire even more young Texas readers!