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Jam Stewart
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Racine Reads: Dream Big! hits the one million book goal after just 18 weeks of the program. Elementary school students in Racine, Wis., celebrate reading and literacy.
Racine Reads: Dream Big! hits the one million book goal after just 18 weeks of the program. Elementary school students in Racine, Wis., celebrate reading and literacy.
Racine Reads: Dream Big! mascot Booker the Owl visits students during One Book, One Grade, One Community Event on January 23, 2012
Racine Reads: Dream Big! mascot Booker the Owl visits students during One Book, One Grade, One Community Event on January 23, 2012
Racine Reads: Dream Big! kicked off on Oct. 1, challenging elementary school students in Racine, Wis., to read one million books by May 2012. Students reached the goal in 18 weeks, on Feb. 1, 2012
Racine Reads: Dream Big! kicked off on Oct. 1, challenging elementary school students in Racine, Wis., to read one million books by May 2012. Students reached the goal in 18 weeks, on Feb. 1, 2012

Racine, Wis. Elementary School Students Reach the Final Chapter: One Million Books Read

Racine Reads: Dream Big! Program Goal Achieved in Just 18 Weeks

Racine, Wis., February 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Just 18 weeks after Racine Reads: Dream Big! launched, Racine elementary school students have one million reasons to celebrate after reaching the program’s ambitious goal to read one million books during the 2011-2012 school year. More than 10,000 students in nearly 500 classrooms participated in the community-based initiative which aimed to get the community fired up and focused on one issue — literacy.

“I’m so inspired by the passion for reading that our community has shown in support of Racine Reads: Dream Big!,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “What is so powerful and moving about this program is the personal investment and passion of the students and teachers. Congratulations to everyone who has helped make this a reality.”

Racine Reads: Dream Big! is sponsored by SC Johnson and is a partnership with the Racine Public Library, the City of Racine, Racine Elementary Schools, the Racine Civic Centre, Racine Literacy Council, Family Literacy of Racine, Cops ‘N Kids, and Girls Inc.

Reading Matters
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), fourth graders who reported having 25 books or more at home had higher scores on reading tests than children who said they didn’t have many books. The NCES state reading assessment shows that 68 percent of fourth graders in Wisconsin read at an average level and only 34 percent at a proficient level. The Center also reports that one child in four grows up not knowing how to read.

“The stats speak for themselves. This program supports building strong reading skills and inspires our teachers to engage their students in creative ways to develop reading habits that will positively impact their lives forever,” said Racine Mayor John Dickert. “Our accomplishments as a community around this program make it possible to set Racine apart and serve as a model for literacy programs in other communities.”

The holistic program was developed to surround students with reading everywhere they go and to engage them in different mediums.  At school, teachers, students and principals are engaged through program tool kits which track reading totals and milestones. At home and in the community, the program has brought literacy to life through author visits, live performances and readings, and volunteer opportunities.

“This program is so much fun and it’s making a big impact,” said Ann Laing, Interim Superintendent, Racine Unified School District. “We’ve heard so many great stories about the creative ways teachers are motivating their students and the celebrations taking place at self-imposed milestones. Rewards have ranged from reading with flashlights on pajama day to wearing their best clothes to school for a Fancy Nancy tea party.”

Racine Reads: What’s Next

Even though the students have hit the program goal, Racine Reads: Dream Big! activities will continue throughout the school year.

Upcoming events include:
February 16, 2012 – Author Visit: Dr. Richard Allington
The community will have an opportunity to hear Dr. Richard Allington, an expert in educating teachers on the best methods to teach reading. Dr. Allington has written more than 100 research articles and a number of books on this topic including Classrooms that Work: They Can All Read and Write. During his visit, Dr. Allington will speak to both educators and parents.

March 2, 2012 – Read Across America Day
The National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America Day, now in its 13th year, is a program focused on motivating children and teens to read. To support Read Across America Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Racine Reads: Dream Big! will implement a volunteer program placing community and business leaders in every classroom throughout Racine.

March – Battle of the Books
Each year, the Racine Public Library coordinates a Battle of the Books literature contest for Racine’s fourth- and fifth-grade students. Teams are composed of up to four students representing area public and private schools. In preparing for the tournament, participants read and become knowledgeable about the content of approximately 40 books selected for the Battle by youth services librarians. Meets are held over a four-week period at the Library and highest scoring teams are declared the champions. To date, the Library has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of teams registered, which is a direct result of Racine Reads: Dream Big! participation.

April 26, 2012 – Author Visit: Rosemary Wells
The author of the popular Max and Ruby children’s book series, Ms. Wells will be in Racine to meet with families during a free community presentation the evening of Thursday, April 26.

Racine Reads: Dream Big! Celebration
The program will officially culminate with a community-wide celebration at the end of the school year.

For more information on events related to Racine Reads: Dream Big! visit www.racinereads.org or the program’s Facebook page.