Skip to main content

Skip to Content

Report Bug

Students, Families, Schools Across Mississippi Strive for Grade-Level Reading by Reading One Book Together


For Immediate Release: September 23, 2019

Media Contacts

Angela Rutherford

Bruce Coffey

JACKSON, Miss. – Starting in October schools across Mississippi will kick off the inaugural year of Mississippi Reads One Book, a statewide family literacy program in which elementary students, families, and schools all read one common novel together.  This year’s title is “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney.

The program is designed to strengthen the connection between home and school.  Families read the novel at home, following a common reading schedule, and students celebrate and explore the novel at school with trivia questions, assemblies, and creative extension activities.

“The Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's mission is to ensure that ALL students read on grade level by the end of third grade.  We know that engaged families help to support that mission, so we felt that Mississippi Reads One Book was a fantastic opportunity to encourage families to read together,” said Angela Rutherford, director of the Mississippi campaign. “This is our first year, but we plan to continue this fantastic family engagement project into the foreseeable future.”

Schools, districts and communities can choose to participate and to purchase the books for students. They also can decide which grades will participate. 

Schools in Mississippi that choose to join the literacy campaign will be treated to two video chapter readings from “The World According to Humphrey” by special guests.  These video recordings will be available to Mississippi families and schools during the 2019-2020 school year.

“We are very grateful to our guest readers, Brett Favre (Hall of Fame quarterback) and Ben and Erin Napier (Home Town, HGTV).  Their commitment to Mississippi families and this project is much appreciated,” Rutherford said. 

Mississippi Reads One Book is supported by Read to Them, a national non-profit based in Richmond, VA.  Read to Them’s mission is to create a culture of literacy in every home. 

“The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) is excited to promote family and community literacy to demonstrate the shared commitment necessary to ensure students are proficient readers. We appreciate the support of Read to Them, and we are pleased to continue to partner with organizations such as the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to improve literacy in our state,” said Nathan Oakley, chief academic officer at the MDE.

Read to Them Director Bruce Coffey said, “The secret sauce of family literacy is to create a symbiosis between home and school.  When students see their book being read and shared and discussed at home and school, they are surrounded by the culture of literacy.”

Read to Them’s family literacy programs have reached 2 million families in 3,000 schools in 49 states.  Read to Them has launched successful state reading programs in Texas, Arkansas, and Virginia - and now Mississippi.  A continually growing body of research demonstrates that children who are read to at home are better prepared to read, succeed in school, and graduate.

For more information about the statewide initiative, visit


Media Contact: 

Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Director of Public Relations