Special to the Register & Bee

Two Danville schools are joining more than 35,000 public school students and their families from across Virginia will read the same book on the same schedule.

It’s all part of Virginia Reads One Book — a statewide family literacy program designed to strengthen the educational connection between home and school from Richmond-based Read to Them.

The program started Friday.

American National Bank & Trust Co. sponsors the program for Danville elementary schools G.L.H. Johnson and Forest Hills, Round Hill Elementary School in Roanoke and Dearington Elementary School in Lynchburg.

Overall, more than 1,500 students and staff will participate.

“At kick-off events in each school, students will receive their own copies of The Toothpaste Millionaire to take home and read with their families,” said Read to Them Interim Director Bruce Coffey. “For the next three weeks, students and their families read a chapter each night at home, coordinating with classroom and school-wide activities. Reading a common book together turns out to be a terrific way to unite a school community and increase parental involvement. Reading aloud at home ensures students come to school prepared to read and to succeed — in school and in life.”

“We are proud to again be a statewide sponsor of Virginia Reads One Book. The program not only boosts students’ reading abilities, but it shows them reading is fun in an atmosphere that strengthens family and community interactions,” said Bruce Whitehurst, president and CEO of the Virginia Bankers Association. “With the support of American National, the school receives a book for every student and complimentary staff copies, both family literacy and financial literacy activities, school assembly suggestions, teacher resources, and both family and community engagement tools. These resources turn a book into a community experience so everyone can enjoy and share the story.”

Carolyn Kiser, American National’s director of marketing and community affairs, said, “We are thrilled to be able to sponsor Virginia Reads One Book this year, which builds on other financial literacy efforts that we have going in our community, including Roanoke Valley Saves, Junior Achievement, and Everfi. We were drawn to this program by not only the financial literacy focus of the book, but also the idea of bringing families together.”

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