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LA CROSSE, Wis., (February 24, 2023) – In celebration of National African American Parent Involvement Day, students at Hintgen Elementary School participated in an event called Read Your Heart Out. This is Hintgen’s fourth year of participating in the event. Family, community members, and volunteers who identify as African American read books, recited poetry, and connect with students through reading in the classroom during the Read Your Heart Out celebration.

The goal of Hintgen Elementary School’s annual Read Your Heart Out (RYHO) event is to utilize culturally representative texts that highlight African American culture, triumphs, contributions, and values. The goals also aim to have community and family members from the African American community come into schools to read aloud these texts so that students can see themselves in both the literature and in roles in their community.

“As we continue to focus on equity, our culturally responsive practices, and a focus on literacy it makes perfect sense to continue Read Your Heart Out in our school,” said Hintgen principal Amy Oliver. “This event helps affirm our commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment by empowering all students to become knowledgeable, caring, and active participants in their communities.”

Read Your Heart Out was created 16 years ago by Michelle Belnavis, a teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Read Your Heart Out was intended to align with National African American Parent Involvement Day which occurs each February. The event started in one school but grew to include many other schools and districts over the years. 

Every Hintgen Elementary School student and nearly 50 guest readers participated in Read Your Heart Out today.