All Suffolk Reads

All Suffolk Reads Launch
Posted on 09/19/2022

Innovative All Suffolk Reads Program Aims to Light Literacy Fires in Families’ Homes

Reading will be the hot topic of conversation in schools and families across Suffolk this fall with the launch of the All Suffolk Reads program. Beginning on October 21, students and their families in all of Suffolk’s elementary schools will read and discuss the children’s book
Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire by Sundee T. Frazier together over several weeks. 
Suffolk Public Schools is the first local school system to partner with All District Reads.  The model focuses on building excitement around reading by getting school systems to read two children’s books together annually. Founded by veteran educator and literacy promoter Gary Anderson, All District Reads is a Virginia-based nonprofit organization devoted to ‘Lighting Literacy Fires’ among families. 
Suffolk Superintendent Dr. John Gordon, III discussed the benefits the All Suffolk Reads program will bring to schools, families, and the community. “We think getting children to read for pleasure is the missing piece of the puzzle,” Dr. Gordon said. “We are so excited to partner with All District Reads.” 
Students will receive their books and will watch a videotaped reading of the first chapter by Dr. Gordon at launch day events for All Suffolk Reads on October 21. Other school officials, business leaders, and members of the local Rotary clubs are participating in community activities that support the concept of family literacy.
Through the program, families will read and discuss one chapter each night from the book for a period of three and a half weeks. Schools will support the program with trivia contests, spirit activities, and many surprises. In addition, Nutrition Services will host weekly Café Events at which participating students will win prizes. At a culminating event on November 18, a few lucky students will win larger prizes donated by local businesses/organizations. 
Both of Suffolk’s Rotary clubs and local businesses provided funding so that each elementary family across Suffolk Public Schools will receive their own copy of the first book: Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire. Families also will receive a free resource guide along with the book. The goal is to help children develop a love of reading by stimulating family reading and discussion of books. 
The success of this program is not only the excitement around reading generated by enthusiastic schools systems like Suffolk, but also the investment by local businesses and philanthropists to provide the books and program support, combined with the involvement of groups like the local Rotary clubs to champion the effort in the community.  As Gary Anderson describes it, “This program is a game changer!”
The program benefits all students, but especially those with limited access to books. Research shows that children from low-income families may enter school having heard millions fewer words than their more affluent peers. Having all elementary school families across the community read and discuss the same book at the same time helps level the playing field. And, as noted in the U.S. Department of Education’s landmark report Becoming a Nation of Readers, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
The All District Reads concept is spreading across the Hampton Roads region. Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the next to launch programs under the All VB Reads banner next spring, with more school systems already in discussion to follow.
To learn more about the All Suffolk Reads program, contact Melvin Bradshaw at [email protected] To learn more about All District Reads, visit the website at