Monday, December 7, 2015

Texans Tackle Talks Up Books

United Way of Greater Houston’s 4th Annual Reading Rally

Buffalo Creek Elementary students greet Houston Texans' Duane Brown.  Photo courtesy of United Way.
Houston Texans’ All-Pro tackle Duane Brown has challenged hundreds of Buffalo Creek Elementary students by asking them to read 20 or more books during the next four months.

The pro football player issued the challenge Dec. 1 during United Way of Greater Houston’s fourth annual “Readers Do Something About It” Reading Rally held at the Spring Branch ISD elementary school.

The high-energy appearance by Brown, Texans No. 76, at Buffalo Creek preceded a same-day visit with met with Spring Shadows Elementary students who had read the most books.

Houston Texans' Duane Brown talks with Spring Shadows Elementary students.
The Buffalo Creek rally included a variety of special experiences and moments. United Way volunteers met with students early in the library and engaged them in fun, educational library activities.

The reading rally in the gym included heavy musical beats to accompany a break dancing team; several pom-pom waving Texans cheerleaders; Toro, the energetic Texans team mascot; and special remarks by Brown, Principal David Rodriguez and Ana Babin, United Way of Greater Houston’s president and CEO.

United Way’s Babin thanked Principal Rodriguez and Buffalo Creek teachers for supporting her organization’s volunteer reading program. She urged the gathering of students to read, read, read.

“I read every day in my job. I’ll tell you that there is not much you can do without reading,” she said.

Texans tackle Brown echoed her view. “Reading is extremely important in my job, too,” he said. “In order to be an NFL player, you have to be able to read well. You have to be able to read a playbook to know what to do out there on the field.”
Brown later played a trivia game with students using popular books and characters in popular children’s literature to ask questions.

“Reading is important for whatever you want to do in life – to be a doctor, or to be a scientist, or be a football player,” he also said.

As a part of the Buffalo Creek event, Brown presented Principal Rodriguez and his students with a special, signed Texans football.

Buffalo Creek students received gift bags with books.
Buffalo Creek students returned to their classrooms with gift bags filled with four, age-appropriate books. United Way notes that based on Texas accountability data, less than 20 percent of Houston third-graders are well prepared for fourth grade’s critical skills, including reading.

Access to books at home and building personal student libraries have been shown to improve interest in reading, and reading skills.

United Way volunteers meet every Thursday with several of Buffalo Creek teacher Nancy Castillo’s students. The tutoring makes a big impact, the teacher said.

“Oh, my gosh! The progress is so unbelievable. Their comprehension and reading fluency can increase so much – 10 to 12 levels is not surprising,” she said.

Second-grader Jennifer Martin likes Thursdays with her reading volunteer. “I read a story, and then I explore what it was about. I like to play word bingo, too.”

“I can’t wait until they come. When we finish our work, we play fund word games,” said Enoc Lemus, another second-grader.

For Castillo, United Way volunteers are one teacher’s best friend. “I want to thank United Way for the support we have here at Buffalo Creek. We are completely and totally in awe of their hard work,” she said.

To learn more about United Way programs, please visit:


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