Celebrate Positive Reading Habits in Tennessee

Books from Dolly Parton Reading Song – Complete Version from Southern Word on Vimeo.

By Benjamin Smith, Executive Director, Southern Word –

Currently, only 43 percent of students are reading on grade level by the time they leave third grade. The goal of Read to be Ready is to increase the percentage to 75 percent by 2025. We cannot reach this ambitious goal without the help of all Tennesseans.

While learning to read takes intentional teaching and parenting strategies, we believe part of the solution lies in sharing a culture of literacy, showing practices that build strong readers and strong parent-child relationships, embedding reading into our habits and into our media, and ensuring literacy is a primary and urgent value of our mainstream culture.

Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation, Tennessee’s Imagination Library, Southern Word, and Read to Be Ready are teaming up to drive the creation and sharing of content and media that celebrates positive reading habits in the everyday lives of Tennesseans.

The first two phases involve collecting images of parents reading to their children and inviting songwriters to create music based on reading themes. Click here for the request for submission.

If this initiative interests you, please be in touch with us. We are intentionally seeking the following:

  • Photos of parents reading with their children, especially at bedtime and especially fathers reading with their children.
  • Songs with reading related themes.
  • Media partners, including social media experts and bloggers, interested in broadcasting and distributing reading related content.
  • Donations of items that can be used to reward or recognize content creators who will be contributing their effort pro bono.
  • Events company partners, restaurants, or entertainment venues interested in donating space, food, and beverages to bring the participating community together.

If you have an interest in participating in this initiative, please e-mail us at

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