The California Reader
Imagine a school where the hot topic of conversation among the students and faculty is … a book! In 39 states and 5 provinces across the United States and Canada, schools and even entire districts are creating an exciting shared reading experience around a single children’s book through the One School, One Book
(OSOB) program which now operates in more than 200 schools.
One School, One Book
stimulates a true “book buzz” in participating schools. Students at Gurney Elementary School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio not only enjoyed reading The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, but also participated in a variety of activities related to the book. To build off the cricket’s operatic chirping, the faculty brought in singers from a local university to teach the students about Opera. To commemorate the cricket’s trip to Chinatown, students munched on Chinese food, made dragons and lanterns in art class, and corresponded with students at a school in China. They also sold fortune cookies to raise money for the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
The school also offered a discussion blog about the book as well as podcasts of individualized chapters by faculty members and others. “It is an amazing program which builds community and reading skills within your building” says Amy Belew, the Intervention Specialist at the school.
“It’s no a panacea” concludes Anderson, “but home involvement is a piece of the puzzle, and when you add it to the mix, it can change families’ lives.”
One School, One Book
aims to get students excited about reading by involving the entire school community – faculty, students and parents – in sharing a single book at the same time. OSOB
is the flagship program of Read to Them
, a nonprofit organization founded by longtime school psychologist Gary Anderson. For years Anderson worried about what he called “third-grade slideouts” – students who lost interest in school because of their struggles with reading. He firmly believed that reading aloud to children for just 15 minutes a day could make a huge difference for many of these struggling students.
“The One School, One Book
program really jump starts students’ enthusiam” says Bruce Coffey, who pioneered the concept at Fox Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia and now serves as director of OSOB
. “It also gets the entire school focused on the same book, which takes the engagement to a whole new level. When a whole school reads a book, there’s a lot to talk about.”
“I love the full-on engagement between the home, the school and the community” adds Anderson. “When you can get all three of them to focus on a book and create a community of readers, it really consumes all aspects of a child’s life.”
The program also helps bring families closer. One parent actually credited the program with saving his marriage by creating an activity the entire family could enjoy together. Another father, who was posted to Iraq, taped readings to send home to his children.
“Parents are the biggest influence on young children,” notes Read to Them
Executive Director John Dwyer. “This program gives parents a great opportunity to be involved in their children’s education.”
Participating schools and districts may select from a list of about 20 books recommended by OSOB
, including titles by Newbery Medal-winning authors Kate DiCamillo and Christopher Paul Curtis, or they may choose their own title. Many schools use Title 1 funds, donations from parent groups or corporate sponsors to cover the cost of roughly $4 to $5 per student and provide each with a copy of the book. OSOB
program resources include a sample reading schedule, a trivia bank with answer keys, priciple’s talking points, suggested activities and more.
Increasingly, clusters and even entire districts are getting involved. Districts or clusters of schools in nine states have launched One District, One Book
View PDF of our feature in The California Reader here
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Micklos retired from active duty with the International Reading Association to further his career as an author. He has many articles and books to his credit. His focus is always children, their literature and their interest in reading. he wrote his first book at the age of eight.