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A Culture of Literacy

A boys holds up a bookStories, art, crafts and a lot of smiles filled Boswell, Chisholm Trial and Saginaw high schools at the annual EMS ISD Reading Festival on Monday, January 8, 2024. Elementary students filled the high school cafeterias to listen to high school students read stories, then filled their bags with “gently used” books to take home. 

“I loved listening to the story about the ‘Creepy Carrots’ and I loved looking through all of the books and picking some to take home,” said Grace Fikou, a third grade student at Bryson Elementary School. 

Another highlight for Grace was the popcorn. Her dad had some popcorn too, but for him, bringing his children to the event was all about the books. 

“It's a great opportunity to get kids a variety of books,” Kpante Fikou said. “It's a very good event.” Older student reading to younger students

The event is just part of EMS ISD’s efforts to grow a culture of literacy around the school district, meeting strategic district goals for excellence in academics and excellence in personalized opportunities. 

But the impact of the event goes even deeper, instilling confidence in the elementary students as they spend their time listening to stories and working on arts and crafts with their “high school heroes.” 

Lilly Adams, an 11th-grade student at Boswell High School, was one of the high school students reading stories. 

When I was in elementary school I was shy and nervous, but when I was around older kids they knew what to say to me to make A man, woman and child by a table of booksme more comfortable and confident,” Adams said. “So, I think it's important that now I give elementary students the same experience.” 

Between all three schools, around 900 people gathered for the festival, including more than 200 elementary students. In addition to as many “gently used” books as they could carry, every EMS ISD elementary school student who attended received a free ticket to a varsity spring athletic event. 

“I just love getting to share free books with kids and help them love reading as much as I do,” said Brittany Fisk, the librarian at Bryson Elementary School. “I think it's great that the district does this because it shows elementary kids how important reading is, and for the high schoolers, it helps them not only give back to the community but serves as a reminder for them of how important reading is, too.” 

Fostering a love of reading among all the students while they spend a fun night with their librarians and campus administrators in a setting outside of their normal campus.Students listen to another student read a book 

“It gives them inspiration to keep reading more and advance in their reading as they see the high school students as an example, and get to take so many books home,” Kpante Fikou said. 

Planning is already underway for the 2025 EMS ISD Reading Festival to continue to foster a love for reading throughout the EMS ISD community.