Custer students started Thursday morning off with some fun

 Sean Covel and Rebecca Swift take pictures with the kids
Published: Nov. 14, 2019 at 10:59 PM CST
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According to the Department of Education, 'children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than 3 times a week.'

Two South Dakotans are taking it into their hands to make sure kids here get the interactive reading they need.

First, second, and third graders at Custer Elementary started Thursday morning with creativity and learning.

"It's just really cool to have an interactive book that's super engaging that the kids can laugh at and play with and also the drawings are super simple so it's really neat that the kids can draw along and be illustrator and artists themselves," said Swift.

The elementary students were ecstatic when Illustrator Rebecca Swift from Bridgewater taught them how to draw their very own Porter the Hoarder.

And the best part was students added their own emotions.

While the kids may have thought it was an art lesson, students learned much more. For author Sean Covel, who grew up in Edgemont and who's mother was a teacher, helping kids read is important.

"I learned from the United Way and Black Hills Reads that a struggle they are facing is early childhood family engagement and before I even knew about that we wrote Porter so it would be interactive, a big would read with a little but when we found out that's an issue that they are dealing with we realized we could create an education program around it. That brings a book home with kids and inspire reading in the home, which is a big deal," said Covel.

According to, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning to read.

And Darbi Hunt from the Statewide Family Engagement Center thinks this book is great for kids.

"The Porter the Hoarder book is really well set up for that because it does encourage families to read together and there is even a parent homework section that's included in the Porter the Hoarder book to kind of tell families about the book and encourage that reading," said Hunt.

The Statewide Family Engagement program has given out more than thirteen thousand Porter the Hoarder books to first graders all across South Dakota and these two South Dakotans are taking it one school at a time.