Hundreds of Lawndale Elementary School students kicked off the school’s third year of participating in the Texas Reads One Book program Monday, with an assist from Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.


Each spring Garrett’s videotaped reading of the first chapter of the selected book is shown in participating elementary schools, officials said, noting Texas Reads One Book is a statewide version of the One District, One Book and One School, One Book programs sponsored by Read to Them, a national family literacy group that has partnered with more than 800 school communities in 47 states.


This year’s book is “The Mouse and the Motorcycle”, by Beverly Cleary.


Michelle Errington, who serves as Lawndale’s Reading Committee chairperson and is a fifth grade reading teacher, said each student receives a copy of the book as a means of promoting literacy and encouraging the effort to read at home.


“This is Lawndale’s third year to participate,” she said. “The first year we did “Charlotte’s Web” and last year we did “Lemonade Wars”. This book is set in 1965, so in this day and time where we’re so technologically advanced, it’s great to go back to those true classics we read growing up, or our parents and grandparents read. It’s wonderful to see how attentive the students were as they were reading along with the coach and nice to see we’ve done our job. Whenever they get so immersed into a book that they don’t want to put it down, it’s very gratifying. We ask them to read one chapter a night, but they are asking us if they can read beyond what we’ve requested. That’s when our hearts are full, when we know they have developed that love for reading.”


Errington said an added advantage of the endeavor is it affords an opportunity to foster student bonds.


“Our older grades pair up with our younger grades and we do some mentor-peer reading,” she said. “We might send a fifth grader to a kindergartner’s class and they both have their book. The fifth grader reads aloud to the younger student and the younger student gets to hear the older student read, recognizing the importance of being a good, fluid reader. Meanwhile, the older student gets the reward of being a mentor or tutor to a younger child. That builds leadership within our students.”


Officials said the program will culminate with a “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” celebration during the final week of the school year, where friends with motorcycles will be invited to attend a cookout while a sidewalk chalk activity will highlight students’ favorite portions of the book.


“It’s great to have that book in your hands and unplug from the world,” Errington said. “Because this year’s book is set in 1965, we’ll have a lot of conversations about what life was like then in comparison to now. It’s really exciting.”