The SD Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) continues its family literacy project partnership with fellow South Dakotans, Sean Covel (author of Porter the Hoarder children’s book series and producer of the iconic film Napoleon Dynamite) and Rebecca Swift (creator and illustrator). And this year will be bigger than ever!
The project started in 2018 through a partnership with United Way of the Black Hills – Black Hills Reads when Porter the Hoarder books were given to 2,400 first grade students in the Black Hills. In 2019 the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center became a partner and expanded the program across the state, tripling it in size. Each participating student received a free copy of Porter the Hoarder and the Ransacked Room, book one in the series, as part of a classroom launch event.
The book is intentionally short at fewer than 600 words, so that families can read it together in just a few minutes, but it includes some vocabulary that is more advanced to engage older siblings and parents as well as first graders.
The project has expanded in 2020 with close to 10,000 books going to nearly 200 schools across South Dakota selected to receive free Porter the Hoarder books, along with supplemental games and learning materials for the classroom and at home. The books are accompanied by “Parent Homework” pages which encourage reading in the home. Each first-grade teacher and the school library will also receive a free copy of the book.
SD SFEC Director, Morgan VonHaden, says “The Porter partnership has been an amazing opportunity in getting learners across the state even more excited about reading! We were able to give upwards of 8,000 books last year and are excited that we have exceeded that number in getting even more books to first graders and their families across South Dakota. Any time we can get fun, engaging books in the hands of kiddos and some fun homework for the families to do with them, it is a win!”
SD SFEC hosted Sean Covel and Rebecca Swift for a free reading event on YouTube Live, Thursday, November 12, 2020. Covel and Swift answered student questions, did a read-aloud of the book, and finished up with Swift sharing how to draw Porter! The event was geared for first graders receiving Porter books, but all students and families were welcomed to tune in. The livestream had nearly 250 views and the number of views of the video since then continues to grow. View the video replay of the event!
Porter the Hoarder is the creation of two South Dakotans. Author, Sean Covel is originally from Edgemont and currently lives in Deadwood, SD, and illustrator, Rebecca Swift, grew up in Yankton and currently lives in Bridgewater, SD.
“As South Dakotans, Rebecca and I are so proud that this program has grown so fast and so powerfully. SD SFEC has been the perfect partner to get Porter the Hoarder into the hands and homes of literally thousands of kids across the state. Even during these weirdo times, the SFEC team has made it happen – and family engagement around reading is stronger for what they do!”
Visit https://sdsfec.org/porter-resources/ for more about the Porter the Hoarder project, including an interactive digital version, downloadable activities, and a Spanish version of the book.