Lubbock County students hear tale of ‘Thelma the Unicorn’ on United We Read day | Lubbock Area United Way

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Lubbock County students hear tale of ‘Thelma the Unicorn’ on United We Read day

September 27, 2019 | Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

By Adam Young

Lubbock Area United Way hosted its second United We Read event Thursday morning at schools throughout the county.

More than 700 volunteers, including a half dozen journalists from the Avalanche-Journal newsroom, helped with the event. They prepared materials and read to students in nearly 200 second grade classrooms in the nine Lubbock County school districts, said Amanda McAfee, vice president of marketing and communications for Lubbock Area United Way.

She said about 3,600 students participated in the event. Volunteers and students read “Thelma the Unicorn” by Aaron Blabey at the same time across all districts and participated in activities based on the book - decorating masks of Thelma and her friend Otis the donkey.

McAfee, who was at New Deal Elementary with volunteers and students on Thursday morning, said United Way partnered with Scholastic and area school districts in selecting the book.

The story, she said, encourages a positive self-image and the importance of being yourself.

New Deal ISD Superintendent Matt Reed was among volunteers who read the book. He admitted to flipping through the book ahead of reading aloud to teacher Christy Anderson’s second-grade class.

“I wanted to make sure I knew all the words,” he said with a chuckle.

Anderson said she was appreciative of the volunteers who took the time to visit her class.

Every child went home with a copy of the book and a craft to go along with the story, along with the colorfully decorated masks.

United Way organizers emphasized the importance of reading to children in the early elementary years to help ensure students have a firm grasp of the life skill.

“Parents and guardians reading to and with children is a critical key to a child’s success in school,” said Clarissa Sanchez with the United Way. “United We Read is designed to highlight the importance of students being grade-level readers by 3rd grade and to encourage caregivers to be actively involved in developing their children’s reading skills.”

Sponsors of the event were Amerigroup, Atmos Energy, Betenbough Homes, Covenant Children’s, First United Bank, Scholastic Books, and United Supermarkets.