Program Promotes Literacy in Odessa, One Book at a Time

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--While it isn't exactly new, supporters in our area say, it's an idea who's time has come.

"The One Book, One City program has really gone across the country. Chicago does it. Austin does it," One Book, Odessa event organizer, Randy Ham, said.

Ham has been hard at work, drumming up support for One Book, Odessa. The ultimate goal, get everyone reading the same book, pretty much at the same time.

"It's about literacy. It's about community building. It's about cooperation with many, many civic organizations and getting the public to really appreciate and be aware of all of the different resources that are available, in your own community, that you may not even know about," Ham explained.

Everyone from theatre groups to hockey teams have jumped on the literacy band wagon.  This program is of particular interest to staff at ECISD, especially those that work with elementary Gifted and Talented programs and English and Language-Arts.

The book and it's companion, for younger readers, have been available in school libraries for a while now.

According to Pam Hicks, Elementary Coordinator of Advanced Academic Services, "The children are actively involved in reading and discussing the life of this author as well as the lives that are represented in the book."

"I think, (it) just sends a great message. We are partners in literacy. We are partners in education. We want Odessa to be a literate community," Nancy Campbell, ECISD's English-Language Arts Coordinator, said.

Neither the name of the book nor the author have been released yet. But, they have taken a portion of the book and produced it in such a way to try to get more people interested in reading it.

"A radio-play adaptation of the book," Mark Tenniswood, with Mark 10 Theatricals, said. "The radio drama is going to end it on a cliffhanger. So, hopefully anybody that does listen to it, is, right away, going to run off and pick up a copy of the book wherever they can find one."

The well known author has written everything from non-fiction to television and comic books. He even has a new TV Series.

Ham tells NewsWest 9, "We wanted to make sure it was a very accessible author, a very easy read and somebody that had a wide mass appeal."

The book's title, author and official program logo will be unveiled Friday morning at the Ector County Library.

With all the excitement building towards that day, Ham emphasizes the importance of it all, "This is not about selling books. This is not about making money. This is about getting the community to read in whatever way we can."