By Kadoria Burgess

This past fall, I received a great opportunity to organize and host a “Masked Reader” event at our campus to accompany our Family Literacy Night. I knew I was on to something, but I had no idea what a hit it would be with students, their families, and staff alike, so much so that I have been asked to host another Masked Reader event this school year. I look forward to hosting Part II! If you are interested in hosting a Masked Reader event at your campus, check out the necessary steps and lessons I learned below.

  1. Secure a date, time, and location that can accommodate a large group of students, their families, and school staff members. Also, ensure that this location has good acoustics, and preferably, a sound system. Pro Tip: You may want to check out the show “Masked Singer” to get an understanding of what the “Masked Reader” event was patterned after.
  2. Make a cool flyer to create hype around the event. The Microsoft Word “Mardi Gras” template came in clutch here, but you can also find great templates via Canva. Pro Tip: You may want to send out the following link with your flyer to give your Masked Reader invitees a gist of what the event is:
  3. Choose a mixture of school district leaders, community members, and campus staff to be Masked Readers and invite them to participate using your flyer. This is a great opportunity to engage your school board members and site-based decision-making team. I found the sweet spot number of Masked Readers is 3-5. Let the Masked Readers choose their favorite book to read aloud as well as their costume, with the caveat that the costume is student-friendly and covers them completely, making it more challenging to guess who they are. Lesson Learned: Invite 1-2 back up Masked Readers if one of the other participants gets sick or has a family emergency.
  4. Once all Masked Readers have been confirmed, develop a clue package for each Masked Reader with 3-4 visuals that will help students, their families, and staff members guess who the Masked Reader is. If the Masked Reader participant is not as well-known by the campus, find easier clues that can point more directly towards the participant, and if the Masked Reader participant is well-known, go more abstract. Post these clues on all your social media accounts as well as announce them during morning announcements the week leading up to the Masked Reader event. You may even send the clues via phone and email blast to create even more hype and curiosity.
  5. The night of the Masked Reader event, be sure to have a table set up for all Masked Readers to sit while reading and a screen one can use to project the clue package for each Masked Reader before, during, and after reading their book aloud. Lesson Learned: Because some costumes are more elaborate, you may need an amplifier device to help increase the volume of the read aloud. Also, if you can do so, you may want to project a copy of the cover of the book and pages being read aloud to ensure that the literacy focus is at the forefront.
  6. After each Masked Reader has read their book aloud, review their clue package and go to the audience and select a few different individuals, including students, family members, and staff, to guess who they think the Masked Reader is. Be ready for some interesting guesses!
  7. After a few guesses, ask the Masked Reader to unveil him or herself as well as share a few words about his or her book that was read aloud and anything else they would like to share with the school community.
  8. Enjoy the laughter, joy, and excitement around reading that the Masked Reader event brings to your campus!

TEPSA member Kadoria Burgess is a passionate and equity-focused Assistant Principal in Fort Worth ISD. She loves being a lead-learner, supporting student and teacher learning, and engaging families in the education of their students.

TEPSA News, May/June 2024, Vol 81, No 3

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