For many years, schools across the country have been participating in One School, One Book programs to promote a love of reading and build a reading community. After the Children’s Program Coordinator of our local library contacted our school to discuss ways we could join forces to encourage summer reading, we decided to sponsor a One School, One Book event.
Or rather, a Two Schools, Two Books event. Because I teach in a K-8 school, finding one book for such a broad age range was a real challenge. So we split the school into elementary and middle school grades and chose two books. Students in the lower grades read Tamera Will Wissinger’s heartwarming Gone Fishing, while middle school students read Ghost, by Jason Reynolds. Every child received a copy of a book during the last week of school.
We met twice during the summer to celebrate these books and our reading. Taking a cue from poetry promoter extraordinaire, Sylvia Vardell, Gone Fishing readers made poem collages (scroll to the bottom of the post) for their favorite poems, then performed some of the poems for two (or three) voices. At our second get-together, the kids wrote acrostics and list poems about fishing or other favorite hobbies. The highlight of this evening was a Skype visit with Tamera. She shared that the idea for Gone Fishing grew out of one poem based on Tamera’s memories of going fishing with her family. Some brave poets then read their poems. Everyone was inspired to write more poems, and one lucky girl went home with a copy of Gone Camping, Tamera’s new book about Sam and Lucy.
Readers of the National Book Award finalist, Ghost, by Jason Reynolds had two insightful discussions about Castle, the choices he made, and how he dealt with those choices. These middle schoolers loved performing some of their favorite scenes, especially Ghost’s blow-up at Brandon in the cafeteria. They also had fun making heart maps for Castle. Everyone was disappointed that Patina hadn’t been published yet (we met before the August 29th publication date), but had plenty of recommendations for other books they’d read over the summer.
All of our celebrations were topped off with ice cream sundaes, and everyone went home happy. Now that school has started, we’ve been discussing how the main characters of both books exhibit Sherman School’s core values of honesty, courage, responsibility, and respect. Based on the success of these celebrations, we’re hoping to make our version of One School, One Book an annual event.
Thank you also to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.