He commends ‘Read Woke’

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the library staff of Smithfield High School for initiating the school’s participation in the “Read Woke Challenge.”

I am a retired educator with 30-plus years of experience as an administrator in the Isle of Wight County Public Schools. I supervised the reading programs while principal of Carrsville Elementary, and until my retirement in 2009, principal of Hardy Elementary.

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Due to the efforts of Team Hardy, of which I was proud to be a member, Hardy received state and national recognition for both its library and reading programs. I have come to understand that good schools encourage good reading skills. Good reading skills are the key to developing students who have the critical thinking skills necessary to become good citizens.

Schools support good readers by providing two types of literature: copious quantities of nonfiction and fiction. Nonfiction books (science, history, geography, biographies, etc.) provide students with the “storehouse of knowledge” of names, dates and facts necessary for a frame of reference. Fiction books (novels, poetry) provide students with the opportunity to acquire skills in character development, plot, setting, prediction and most importantly, an awareness and appreciation for different points of view.

In reviewing the titles listed in the “Read Woke Challenge,” I am convinced participation in the program will further the character development of all students as well as ultimately strengthen our country.

As I have read the letters to the editor over the past several weeks, I found several statements that the books in the challenge are divisive. I find it ironic that several of the letters that warn of racial divisiveness were written by people who wanted the Confederate monument, perhaps the ultimate symbol of divisiveness and racial separation, to remain on the courthouse lawn.

Other letters have used the word “indoctrination.” Do these people realize that to deny students the opportunity to read a variety of literature is in itself indoctrination?

By supporting and encouraging the “Read Woke Challenge,” the School Board has an opportunity to remain the Isle of Wight County School Board. To succumb to demands for censorship and the curtailment of student knowledge, they will become the Ministry of Propaganda.


Richard B. Crawford

Virginia School Board Distinguished Principal Certificate

New Orleans