WEBER CITY — All 354 students at Weber City Elementary School received a new book Friday morning as part of the Virginia Reads One Book program.
Adopted by the Virginia Bankers Association, the program aims to increase literacy for 60,000 participating students across the state.
Powell Valley National Bank sponsored the program locally and presented Weber City Elementary students with copies of “Cleo Edison Oliver: Playground Millionaire” by Sundee T. Frazier.
“To us, reading is so fundamental,” said Leton Harding, CEO of Powell Valley National Bank. “To understand math, you’ve got to be able to read; to understand biology, you’ve got to be able to read. … So we’re just really excited about it.”
Powell Valley National Bank offers other programs, mainly focusing on finances and banking, at local schools. This is the first year the bank has sponsored a reading program, Harding said.
Julie Bowen, reading specialist at Weber City Elementary, said the school’s faculty and staff also received copies of the book and will read it along with the students.
Harding added that he and other bank representatives will return to the school in the coming days to read portions of the book to students, which Bowen believes is an important aspect of the program.
“You need to hear other people read,” Bowen said. “There is so much research that shows (the benefits of) hearing other people read that you don’t hear every day. Hearing your teacher read is great, but having guests come in that you don’t know, that you don’t normally hear, it makes a difference.”
Harding said the program will continue in the coming years and will benefit other schools in the region.
“Next year we’ll do it again, but we’ll choose another school,” Harding said. “So hopefully over time, we’ll be able to do a variety of schools in not only Scott County, but other areas of Southwest Virginia.”