Building literacy and character through book clubs

School Ways

Literacy is key to student success in school and beyond. Educators and parents know that early literacy skills equip students with a solid foundation they can build upon and become lifelong learners. 

As students across the country returned for in-person instruction in the fall of 2021, educators in Newport News Public Schools worked diligently to address learning loss and support our students’ social-emotional needs. 

A new division-wide literacy plan is guiding instruction and assessing student progress. To support the social-emotional health of our students, our staff has created and implemented a curriculum aimed specifically at building resilience and helping students manage challenges in school and at home. 

A new initiative now extends our national award-winning social-emotional curriculum beyond the classroom and helps families talk about these important concepts at home. 

Newport News Public Schools has launched Building Character Book Clubs, a project that reinforces social-emotional learning with books students can keep and add to their home libraries. It also provides a resource for families to help them facilitate their child’s social-emotional and literacy learning. 

The project, paid for with CARES Act funds to address unfinished learning, helps students who are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic learn to deal with their emotions and social interactions in a healthy way. 

Each month, every student in kindergarten, first and second grade receives a book at the appropriate reading level that addresses a topic also covered in class, including frustration, fear and worry. Classroom discussions and a variety of activities help students make connections between the book content and life.

Families can scan a QR code for access to a newsletter which includes quick and easy literacy and social-emotional activities they can accomplish at home during the month. Recognizing how busy households can be, the activities are designed to take place during the rhythms of the day: morning time, car time, meal time and evening.

Our families are enjoying reading and activity time together and engaging in meaningful conversations with their children. We recognize that optimal learning only happens when students are able to focus and concentrate on the lesson in front of them. By addressing students’ social-emotional needs, we are helping them reach their full academic potential.

We look forward to continuing the Building Character Book Clubs during the 2022–2023 school year in partnership with our families. 

About Dr. George Parker 12 Articles
Dr. George Parkeris superintendent of Newport News Public Schools and can be reached at 757-283-7850, ext. 10112. For more information about the Newport News STEM education, visit the Newport News Public Schoools’ website at

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