Tennessee Celebrates Literacy Month During March

Monday, March 06, 2023 | 10:00am


Governor Bill Lee Proclaims March 2023 Literacy Month to Highlight the Importance of Literacy in K-12 Education

Nashville, TN – Throughout the month of March, the Tennessee Department of Education invites all Tennesseans to celebrate Tennessee Literacy Month, spotlighting the Reading 360 initiative and the focus Tennessee’s educators, families, elected officials, and community partners have on improving literacy rates for all learners in the state.

Governor Bill Lee proclaimed March 2023 as Tennessee Literacy Month, and throughout the month, the department is highlighting how reading is for all students. We will be sharing information about literacy programming and initiatives around the state to empower families and students to engage in reading activities at home. 

Celebrations began last week as classrooms and teachers across America and in Tennessee celebrated Dr. Seuss’s great legacy with Reading Across America Week, February 27-March 3. Using the hashtag #TNReadingForALL and #ReadLikeRiley, Tennesseans can engage on social media throughout the month to learn about at-home resources and engage in why they support literacy. 

“Through our Reading 360 initiative, Tennessee’s district and school leaders, educators, elected officials, families, and partners are committed to ensuring all our students are reading on grade level by third grade, and we are already seeing great strides from this work around our state,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “I invite all Tennesseans to join us in emphasizing the importance of early literacy and share your love for reading throughout the month of March.”

Last month, the department received engagement from over 850 district and school leaders, teachers, community partners, and education preparation providers (EPPs) during the Reading 360 Virtual Summit, held February 9-10. During the Summit, participants shared their experiences and best practices on implementing high-quality instructional materials and foundational skills instruction and preparing teachers for literacy instruction. A combined 99.4% of the Summit participants rated the Summit as “above average" and "average;” 98.9% reported “my knowledge on the topic increased and the instructional materials provided were high quality," and 98.4% shared “I have identified next steps toward my work.”

“Great conference! We are leaving the conference with many resources to support our literacy instruction,” said a Reading 360 Summit Participant. “We have some clearly defined next steps and many resources to discuss and plan for.”  

“The sessions were extremely helpful,” said a Reading 360 Summit Participant. “The information and the first-hand experiences shared provided practical information, usable strategies, and insights. It also helped to hear how other districts and schools have navigated challenges.”

During March, the department will continue to celebrate the 99 Reading 360 districts for their commitment to teacher training, leader support networks, and focused work on early literacy. 

Additionally, the department will host five family literacy events to support K-2 families at home and deliver Decodables and other literacy resources. In addition to the family events, Riley the Reading Raccoon will visit over 30 districts across Tennessee to observe how districts continue to accelerate student learning in literacy. 

“The scope and scale of Reading 360 demonstrates an impressive commitment to improving literacy outcomes in Tennessee, and we are pleased to be a partner in this work.” said Dr. Deborah Reed, Director, Tennessee Reading Research Center, University of Tennessee Knoxville. 
“As a Reading 360 partner, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) is proud to join TDOE to raise awareness of the importance of early literacy and our mission to strengthen it statewide,” said James Pond, president of GELF,” said James Pond, President, Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF). “Through our programs, we see firsthand that literacy goes beyond the ability to read, and it is vital that we come together as Tennesseans to support our youngest learners and promote a culture of literacy statewide. It is more than books. It is the future of Tennessee.”

“One of the core areas of United Way of Greater Nashville’s work is to ensure that every child in our community has the skills they need to succeed—from kindergarten to graduation. Our educational programs, including Raise Your Hand, align with the Reading 360 initiative to offer solutions toward our state’s literacy crisis and to ensure that all children have an equal chance to learn and succeed,” said Sonya Johnson, Senior Manager, Education Initiatives, United Way Greater Nashville. “Through Raise Your Hand, we build partnerships as a pathway to positively engage teachers, leaders, and families through tutoring services with an intentional design to increase literacy rates among first- through fifth-grade students.”

Reading is the most essential academic skill for students because it is the foundation for learning. Students who struggle with reading need additional opportunities to practice these newly acquired skills. Resources and support will be shared for families with readers of all ages and abilities, birth through eighth grade. These resources will support families with ways to engage in S.I.M.P.L.E. Moments at home by playing, modeling, listening, and learning about sounds together. Families will also be provided with the strategies and support needed to use them through videos and models. 

Additional resources for families can be accessed on Best for All Central at Family Resources and Literacy Resources for Families. To access additional resources on Reading 360, click here.