RIO HONDO – This spring, Rio Hondo Independent School District is refreshing and modernizing its school libraries with new collections to rekindle the students' passion for reading.

“Our ‘new’ middle school library is now open to students,” said Raul Trevino, assistant superintendent of academics at RHISD. “Our elementary collection just arrived and will be available soon.” The school district recently invested $250,000 of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant funds to replace the existing inventory at the elementary and middle schools with new books. The updated collection includes all classic, contemporary and Newbery Award books recommended by the Perma-Bound library store and the district’s English and Reading/Language Arts teachers. The new books will include Accelerated Reader (AR) labels on the spine to help students and teachers select books that are at an appropriate level of reading difficulty for each student. “For example, if a student is reading at a fourth-grade level (4.0), their book level may range from 3.5 – 4.5. Anything below that would be considered too easy or unchallenging, but anything beyond 4.5 may be too advanced and frustrating for the student. Students will still be able to check out all types of books, but this will help them gauge their own reading development,” Trevino said. Annette Jaramillo, Rio Hondo Elementary School principal, believes the books will excite students and encourage them to do more independent reading. “Studies show students who read more develop better vocabulary, demonstrate better spelling and writing skills and perform better on achievement tests. Studies also show the most successful people have a common habit: reading,” Jaramillo said. “We believe the investment in new books is well worth it to help our students become lifelong readers and learners.” The district also invested $60,000 of Elon Musk Foundation grant funds to purchase new furniture for the high school library. By late April, the library will have more comfortable seating, brighter LED lighting, study lamps and more charging stations for laptops and phones. “We expect our students to continue their education after high school, so we wanted to create a library with a collegiate atmosphere for them,” Trevino said. Rio Hondo High School is designated a Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) school by the Texas Education Agency.