LITTLE ELM — Scattered students and parents read in relative silence, created their own bookmarks, enjoyed tasted books and more Thursday evening.

They gathered inside Denton ISD’s Navo Middle School for the third annual Family Literacy Night, an event meant to encourage reading outside of the classroom.

Tina Simpson, an eighth grade reading teacher at Navo, said the events began after another teacher showed her a 1987 study authored by William Nagy and Patricia Herman. The researchers found that 20 minutes of reading each day can greatly expand a child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension.

“Wow, how can we get that idea to our parents?” she recalled thinking.

Some drivers were stuck in traffic for upward of an hour while in transit to the literacy event following Thursday afternoon’s fatal crash on East University Drive.

Considering the circumstances, Simpson said she was happy with the turnout. Even for those who missed Thursday’s event, she said the school plans to expand it into a biannual event. That means local readers are only a few months away from another opportunity.

She said this year’s theme was “Literature Throughout History.” Students were able to learn a bit about each decade from the 1920s through the modern day.

For instance, at the 2000s booth, attendees were walked through roughly a decade of history that began with the Y2K scare and ended with the death of Osama bin Laden. Other notable stops included the Great Recession, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the election of ex-President Barack Obama.

At each decade’s booth, students could take part in a “book tasting,” where they could glance over several books from the particular decade.

Natosha James, a parent and member of three area PTAs, has been to all previous literacy nights and said some of her children enjoy attending.

“I promote reading in my house,” she said Thursday. “[My kids] might not love reading, but they have no choice.”

In addition to various craft tables and book tastings, students who completed a 25-question scavenger hunt or completed a punch card were eligible for prizes.

Catlynn Cooke, an enthusiastic student in attendance, was one of the lucky attendees. After speeding through her scavenger hunt, she won an e-reader.

“I am having so much fun here!” she announced over a meal of complimentary pizza.

She didn’t quite represent the student targeted by the event. She estimated she had 140 books in her bedroom alone. Regardless, she found plenty more books to read throughout the evening.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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