Eagle Rock Elementary School Principal Sandra Gould with students in Ms. Harris’ fifth grade class with their copies of “The Lemonade War,” the chapter book provided for the Virginia Reads One Book program supported by Bank of Botetourt and the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation.

More than 40,000 public school students and their families from 41 districts across Virginia are reading the same book on the same schedule that started Tuesday, Feb. 6  after Super Bowl LII.

That’s the day all participating schools received their new books and followed along as a mystery reader — provided by the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation — read the first chapter aloud on an exclusive video cast.

It’s all part of Virginia Reads One Book — a new reading program from Richmond-based Read to Them.

Bank of Botetourt and the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation (VBAEF) are sponsors of this program at Eagle Rock Elementary School, where more than 150 students and staff participated.

“The students each received their own copy of ‘The Lemonade War,’ a chapter book by Jacqueline Davies,” said Read to Them Programs Director Cathy Plageman. “The students take their books home and read a chapter with their families each night. They are literally all on the same page as everyone follows the same schedule.

“Virginia Reads One Book is designed to help schools and communities build reading habits — to increase both student literacy and family literacy,” says Plageman. “With ‘The Lemonade War,’ students and families are also introduced to financial literacy as Evan and Jessie discover the skills they need to run their lemonade stand businesses.

“The program not only boosts students’ reading abilities, but it shows them reading is fun in an atmosphere that strengthens family and community interactions,” says Plageman. “With the support of Bank of Botetourt and the VBAEF, 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. Some schools have also ordered Spanish versions of the book to give to students.”

Michelle A. Crook, Bank of Botetourt SVP & CFO, said, “We are thrilled to be able to sponsor Virginia Reads One Book in this first year alongside the VBAEF. This program builds on other financial literacy efforts that we have already in our community. We were drawn by not only the financial literacy focus of the book, but also the idea of bringing families together through this program.”

In addition, all Virginia Reads One Book schools will be invited to participate in Kathryn Starke’s Tackle Reading program.

Other program sponsors include Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, Virginia Council on Economic Education and Tackle Reading.