Mission CISD launches community-wide reading program

MISSION— In an effort to encourage literacy in children well before school age, the Mission Consolidated Independent School District and partner cities are focusing on providing access to online books to the entire family.

“It’s a library of over 7,000 books and we are providing that free service to everyone in our community,” Mission CISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez said. “There’s no catch, there’s no subscription later on… it’s a way to combat illiteracy in our area.”

The program is called Mission CISD Reads and was formally launched on Friday after months of planning, Lopez said.

After looking for ways to tackle the illiteracy rate — which in Hidalgo County is at about 50 percent, according the National Center for Education Statistics— the district partnered with the cities of Mission, Alton and Palmhurst to launch this program.

The cities agreed to pay for a portion of the subscription to the online library called myON and advertise the initiative.

Through this platform, users can access the online library on a computer or device with internet access and keep track of their reading. The district will also have access to data such as number of users and number of books read.

The district and the cities agreed to a five-year subscription, paying about $146,000 per year, Lopez said. But the idea, Lopez said is to analyze the usage every year to measure success and verify if there are any needed changes before renewing the program on the fifth year.

“Our expectation is that they are going to have the opportunity to come in at grade level or better with these resources,” Lopez said. “It’s a way to close the opportunity gap… If they can read just 20 to 30 minutes a day you are going to see a different type of child come into our school systems.”

The idea was born out of seeing positive results with similar projects in high-poverty areas in California and Florida, he said, and once the district approached its serving cities, the positive reaction and support was immediate.

The books are available in English and Spanish and offer read-along options for those who are learning to read as well as books suitable for new and avid readers.

The district and the cities will advertise the program along with other partners such as churches, hospitals, and Head Start programs.

Mission CISD students will be asked to use the school login to access the platform and their progress will be tracked. All other residents interested in using the platform can log in under the school name “Mission CISD reads,” username “mission,” and password “reads.”

Alton residents can log in under the name “Alton Reads,” username “alton” and password “reads.”

“It’s going to be something that we really feel is revolutionary and changes the mindset to reading,” Lopez said. “We hope a kid finds that book that hooks them, that creates that curiosity to open up another book, and another book to the point that they are avid readers.”