The North Texas Area United Way "I Heart Books Week," which brought attention to the importance of early childhood literacy, was attended and enjoyed by hundreds of children during Texoma's Children's Literacy Awareness Week February 9-14, 2013.
The week-long focus on reading began at Sikes Senter Mall on Saturday, February 9, with a kick-off party featuring KFDX News Anchor Gwyn Bevel reading the story of Llama Llama Red Pajama to a group of over 150 children, parents and family members. Every child received a copy of the Llama Llama Red Pajama book to take home courtesy of Sikes Senter, and three real live llamas were also on hand for everyone to see up-close courtesy of Larry Hill's Painted Pony Rides of Wichita Falls.
Texoma Children's Literacy Awareness Week continued with more LLRPJ parties throughout the community and surrounding towns. Ten additional red pajama parties were held at Archer City Public Library, Children’s Corner, Building Blocks Learning Center Jacksboro Hwy., Children Come First, Farris Early Childhood Center, Perfected Praise, Building Blocks Learning Center Ridgeway Dr., Brook Village Early Childhood Center, Kate Burgess Elementary and Dinsmore Elementary in Electra.
Celebrity readers who lent their voices and made each event a special moment in the children's lives included Gwyn Bevel, KFDX; Jeff Bryant, of the band Ricochet; Artie Woods; Judge Woody Gossom; C.A. Thomas, Midwestern Mud Service; Lindsey Forst, KAUZ Newschannel 6; Lindsey Wopschall, KFDX; “Big Jim” Russell, Cumulus Radio; and Chris Showalter, Times Record News.
According to United Way’s Early Development Instrument data, approximately 50% of Texoma children are not kindergarten-ready and could significantly benefit from an increased focus on school readiness.
Reading in the home from birth to age five is critical in preparing children to be ready for the Kindergarten classroom. Those who are will perform better on the third grade reading test and will be right on-track in school, which is directly correlated to higher graduation rates.