On November 2, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and children’s author Jon Scieszka visited P.S. 133 in Brooklyn to announce the kick-off NYC Reads 365, a citywide, multi-year literacy initiative to promote daily reading. This program dovetails with New York City’s universal second-grade literacy plan announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in September as part of his equity and excellence in education campaign.
Via NYC Reads 365, all pre-K-12 schools in the city will receive materials and resources to promote daily reading both in and outside of school that include age-appropriate reading lists, posters, bookmarks, and support and training sessions for school staff and parents. Students and their families can access those materials online as well, at a dedicated NYC Reads 365 website.
“Reading opens doors and expands opportunities for our children, in and out of the classroom,” Fariña said in a statement. “For me, reading Spanish fairy tales with my father as a young girl inspired a love of books and a love of learning, and ultimately inspired me to become a teacher. As we give New York City students and families resources to make daily reading a reality in their lives, I know that we are going to be a better city for it.”
In a statement Scieszka noted, “Kids become lifelong independent readers by seeing positive role models, having a choice in what they read, and being able to read for pleasure – exactly what NYC Reads 365 offers. As an author, a New Yorker, and a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, I am thrilled to help put this program into action. Kids and parents are going to love NYC Reads 365. And NYC Reads 365 is going to inspire and help produce informed, literate citizens.”
In addition to creating enthusiasm for reading, NYC Reads 365 will help bolster the work of reading coaches that will be assigned to all elementary schools by fall 2018. Coaches will be identified and trained by the NYC Department of Education beginning this spring, and the first coaches will be assigned to high-needs schools starting next fall.
The grade-level booklists in the new initiative – 11 lists consisting of 220 total titles – were compiled by a committee of school library media specialists and reviewed by literacy experts from the DOE’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning. This rollout marks the first update to citywide reading lists across preK-12 since 2008. Going forward, the lists will be updated annually. The city is also working with the New York, Brooklyn, and Queens public libraries to ensure that the titles on the various reading lists are widely available.
According to the DOE, the initial cost of NYC Reads 365 is $540,000, and the bulk of those funds will be used to purchase titles for school libraries. The bookmarks and posters for the initiative were designed by illustrator (The Amazing Alphabet of Twenty-Six Tongue Twisters) and Bronx native Robert Pizzo. Each of the five posters depicts a borough of NYC and features an iconic borough landmark engaged in reading.
During last week’s launch, local libraries, community-based organizations, authors and readers were encouraged to tweet their support of the new citywide effort using the hashtag #NYCReads365.