Fort Concho Launches a Love of Literacy for new School Year with Reading Together Initiative

Since the 2020 launch of the San Angelo READS! community-wide literacy initiative by San Angelo ISD, our campuses continue to celebrate literacy and inspire a love reading in new and creative ways! Today, in honor of National Literacy Month, we are proud to share a collaborative program by Fort Concho Elementary, the “Families that Read Together, Succeed Together!” reading initiative.

To springboard into a new school year, Fort Concho Principal Lori Barton and her team created the reading initiative that is now in its eighth year as a way to build school community through a shared experience, and to emphasize the joy and importance of reading. All students at the school, together with parents and faculty, read a book at a scheduled pace over a few weeks.  This year the book is “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.

“We look forward to beginning every year with a special book that we can read together with all of our Fort Concho families! ‘Families that Read Together, Succeed Together’ is a shared experience that sets the tone for the year, and focuses on the importance of reading at home with your children,” said Principal Barton. “Reading is the foundation to all academic success! We are passionate about reading and strive to ignite that passion in each of our students.”

Families were provided the schedule to do the assigned reading at home in advance of class review. Teachers and staff then followed with activities and discussions about the book relevant to where they were on the scheduled reading. The program also highlighted how reading 20 minutes at home each day can add up to a big impact on a student’s exposure to words, vocabulary and reading comprehension gains and overall success in school. Students were also given their very own book to keep. 

To wrap up and celebrate completion of the collective reading of the book, Principal Barton surprised her students with a hot air balloon launch event, perfectly on theme with “The Wizard of Oz”. Students were elated to see one aspect of the book come to life and counted down as the crew blasted the burner flame before taking off above the Fort Concho grounds. The hot air balloon was piloted by Dr. Lucas Heartsill and provided compliments of the Heartsill family. 

“I really enjoy aviation and was happy to be able to share that with the kids, as well as support their reading of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and help to bring the book to life,” said Dr. Heartsill.

In addition to “The Wizard of Oz”, 5th graders at Fort Concho read another grade-level book with shared activities as part of the initiative. That book is “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein, and 5th graders will have their own surprise culminating event in connection with that reading. 

Follow the San Angelo ISD Facebook, Twitter, and website,, to stay up-to-date on San Angelo READS! Community members are encouraged to share how they celebrate reading and National Literacy Month all September with the hashtag, #SAISDReads. 

San Angelo READS!

The San Angelo Reads! community-wide literacy initiative was founded by the District in 2020 to promote and encourage reading and the SAISD future-ready learner profile attributes among SAISD students and the greater San Angelo community. The goal of the literacy initiative is to increase awareness of the importance of literacy and to inspire a love for reading. This exciting initiative is driven by statistics which show how vitally important literacy is to providing all students with the opportunities to succeed at a young age. Children and teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading and writing tests than infrequent or non-readers.

SAISD kicked off San Angelo READS! on December 9, 2020 with the first annual San Angelo Reads! Day, a day when literacy was celebrated at every SAISD elementary campus with literacy fun like read-ins, unveiling book vending machines and a gift of a book to all SAISD 3rd graders compliments of the San Angelo Area Foundation. Since then, the program has grown to include community pop up events, the Summer Book Patrol program and more. SAISD is focused on building literacy skills that create students who are prepared for future successes, inside and outside the classroom and beyond their time in our hallways.