Education Spotlight: Livingston Unified's new literacy initiative gets more students reading

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

With many kids still learning from home, parents and teachers are working extra hard to make sure their students don't fall behind. Livingston Unified officials discussed why getting kids to read is a priority and how a new literacy initiative aims to do just that.

Read Landon's interview with Superintendent of Livingston Union School District, Andres Zamora, below or watch it in the media player above.

Landon: Tell me about this new literacy initiative.

Andres: So, in light of our current situation with the pandemic, we wanted to ensure that our students had access to literacy. Literacy has always been a priority in our school district. And so, with libraries being closed and schools being closed, we wanted to create a way of still staying connected with our students' community and ensuring they had books. So, we started the Livingston Mobile Library. And so the idea is pretty simple, it's we transform one of our school vans into a library. We purchased, gosh, over 3,000 books. And the goal is to take those books to different locations in their community, invite guest readers. We've had teachers, we've had community members. We've had board members, administrators. Gather kids around in the park in the centralized area and receive a read-aloud. Also, parents show up. It's been a really great way to keep our students connected to reading and ensuring that they have books in their home as well.

Landon: So how are you guys able to pull this off in the midst of a pandemic?

Andres: Well, we started it a couple of months ago, so it's been going before we were at this point we're at today. But one of the things we were able to do is use the funding that's available to us to support student learning. And with proper social distancing, we've of course, notified our parents that we were coming. There's there's now a schedule in which the van is out in the community. Our students and our parents have been great. They show up. They follow proper distancing protocols, all safety precautions. And so far, it's been a great success.

Landon: Why is prioritizing literacy so important?

Andres: Well, literacy is still foundational to all learning. We know that if kids cannot read well, they have difficulty accessing mathematics, science, history, so it's a foundational skill. In our community, literacy rates are low; access to books is not ideal. And so, I think, because of this situation, it's even more incumbent upon us to make a real effort to ensure that books are getting into kids' hands. They are reading, and especially when they're home with their parents, where parents can be that listener or that reader. It's just been a phenomenal opportunity for our kids. It's great to see our kids and the unintended outcome is that our kids are still connected to our schools, even during this pandemic. We're going to keep giving away books, making sure kids are reading.
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