PED Literacy Conference Features Mascot & Children’s Book


PED News:

SANTA ANA PUEBLO – Literacy is taking flight in New Mexico, featuring a book written by a Public Education Department leader and the unveiling of a mascot.

Ricky the Roadrunner will make an inaugural appearance at the 2023 Literacy and Humanities Summer Convening titled “SoaRing to New Heights With the Science of Reading” on Tuesday and Wednesday. National and state speakers will spotlight the Science of Reading across content areas from cradle to high school, providing educators tools and resources to engage students in literacy.

The bilingual picture book that includes Ricky as one of its main characters, titled “This Is New Mexico/Esto Es Nuevo México,” was written by Severo Martinez, director of New Mexico Public Education Department’s (PED) Literacy and Humanities Bureau. Its illustrator, Jorge Reza, was born and educated in New Mexico, as was Martinez. Class sets will be distributed to educators at the conference.

“The primary purpose of this book is to inspire every student to embrace the superhero within themselves and become avid readers,” Martinez said. “Its pages paint a vivid picture by showcasing popular landmarks, towns, pueblos and cities of New Mexico, allowing students to see themselves in the illustrations. Leading the journey are Ralph the Reader and Ricky the Roadrunner, who embark on adventures to explore the diverse cultures of New Mexico. Through their captivating stories, the book instills a sense of pride in students for their unique identities and emphasizes the importance of cherishing their beautiful home, New Mexico!”

Literacy projects are a priority of PED with $21.5 million earmarked for initiatives in schools, the most dollar amount in state history. About 6,500 educators across New Mexico are enrolled in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) training. Taught by 154 facilitators, 1,274 teachers have finished the two-year training that includes both synchronous sessions as well as internet-based lessons that swivel around evidence-based strategies to support all students, particularly those who experience reading challenges.

To engage students in the 2023-2024 school year, PED will launch a “Level Up New Mexico” reading challenge at more than 70 schools, spotlighting star readers and providing incentives. Ricky the Roadrunner will be a frequent guest in schools.

About the PED:

New Mexico Public Education Department partners with educators, communities and families to ensure that all students are healthy, secure in their identity and holistically prepared for college, career and life. Currently, the PED serves more than 317,000 students in 187 districts and charter schools. Find an abundance of resources for administrators, educators, families and students at New Mexico Public Education Department ( or follow the NMPED on Facebook and Instagram.

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