Gates Elementary Spends 12 Years with One School, One Book!

For the last twelve years, Gates Elementary in Davison, Michigan has held an annual One School, One Book reading event. The school-wide reading program is one that students and staff eagerly look forward to each year. “OSOB [really] brings families and schools together,” says Theresa Wendt, who has been the Principal at Gates Elementary for … Read more

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Read to Them!

Each April, National Poetry Month gives folks the opportunity to celebrate the importance of poetry and the poets whose works actively enrich our lives. Like any creative genre, poetry includes a plethora of themes and terminology to introduce to students. Poetry also presents a wondrous opportunity: the chance to build a bridge between reluctant readers … Read more

Sticking with Your Story, a Journey of Persistence

“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”   – Vice President Kamala Harris   From the day we are born, a blank page unfurls before us, ready and waiting for us to tell our story. Some folks, however, allow … Read more

Tips from the Field

One of the classic, bread-and-butter elements of Read to Them’s printed newsletter was the “Tips from the Field” section. It allowed seasoned One School, One Book program coordinators to share advice with educators who may be looking for ways to innovate or even find their footing in launching their reading event. We are happy to be able to share the wisdom of three OSOB veterans and hope that their guidance inspires you as much as it does us!

 Kelly Wintemute– Reading Specialist Title 1

Corry Area Intermediate School in Corry, Pennsylvania 

Our school chose The One and Only Ivan for our first OSOB title. The book is award-winning, loved by our staff, and lent to many extension activities. Next year, the survey results from students, parents, and team will determine our book choice. Our school incorporated many things to keep the students engaged with The One and Only Ivan. Our staff was vital in creating the culture for One School, One Book. It was essential to making this fun, and our faculty’s enthusiasm was contagious. Ivan-related decorations and bulletin boards covered the hallways.  Our staff recorded the readings and posted them on our Seesaw pages. Our school encouraged at-home participation for the reading of the book.

We integrated The One and Only Ivan in our Family Involvement Night by having a staff dressed as a gorilla to entertain the participants, provided suggestions on how to read with their families, and had other literary-themed activities. The educators also engaged the students by having an optional weekly trivia challenge on the pages read each week. The students also had optional activities such as gorilla drawing and a cooking activity, Gorilla Wraps. The students could access these activities on Seesaw, and every activity earned them a chance to win The One and Only Bob, The One and Only Ivan sequel. Teachers also posted the students’ work on a grade-level blog.

The highlight of our One School, One Book experience was our community involvement activity. One of the themes of The One and Only Ivan is compassion for animals. Our school tied this theme to the Erie Zoo’s campaign, Wild Open Spaces. The goal is that the zoo will offer “more WILD OPEN SPACES for their animals and help them better meet the needs of the animals and plants in their care – creating a unique environment that will be enjoyed for generations to come.” Our students connected to the animals in the story and wanted to help other animals through a voluntary penny drive. In addition, our students created and donated enrichment activities for the animals at the zoo. For example, they made paper chains and colorful paper bags for the animal’s entertainment during the winter months with fewer visitors. As a result, Corry Area Intermediate School students raised $2,338.07 for the Erie Zoo to help with their campaign. This activity allowed the students to make a difference in their community. Our first year doing One School, One Book was a tremendous success!


Lisa Korbas– Student, School & Family Support Services Coach (Title 1)

McCormick Elementary in Farmington, New Mexico

I have been participating in OSOB since 2018, since I was hired as the Title 1 teacher. But my school has been involved since 2015. Each school year we fit in two books for our students, one in fall and one in spring. We are fortunate to have our local ROTARY club help supplementing with the funds. Each year they also participate by handing out the books and celebrating during our final chapters.

We choose our books based on our diverse population, which includes Spanish speakers and Navajo speakers. We always choose a book that can be purchased in both Spanish and English.

We promote the new book in many ways around our campus; first by putting up “bulletin boards” and fliers around the building. We have also made many posts in our social media, [our school] website,  and Schoology community groups. We also keep our classroom teachers involved by providing electronic timelines for reading, activities that go with the book and rewards for those who can answer comprehension questions about the book.

Each Friday we visit each classroom in the building and ask these questions and even put winners on the Announcements.

We believe each time we participate in OSOB our students are the most involved in their own reading and are including their own families in a positive way.

Linda Garrison– Librarian

Canterbury School of Florida in St. Petersburg, Florida

Choosing the book: We begin discussing book choices at faculty meetings in the spring. Our school comprises PK-4th. I alternate choosing books which would appeal to our older students (Dominic) with the whole school (Mr. Popper’s Penguins). One year the theme of our fundraising gala was loosely based on The Wizard of Oz, so we chose that book as our

OSOB. It is critical that at least one person has read the book recently, before finalizing the choice, thus ensuring that teachers and administrators can be prepared to answer possible objections.

It is essential to choose and purchase the book as early as possible so that teachers can read it and begin to choose activities. I try to choose books that have sequels, or the author/illustrator has published other books; do not have movies (difficult); have a beginning reader companion; have a Spanish version; include music, science, or language. I purchase as many sequels as possible so that the students (or teachers) can seamlessly move to the next. I try to have at least 5 of the next book, 3 of the 3rd, and 1 of the next few. Students love to read these throughout the year!

Creating excitement: We begin teasing the book in May. I create a bulletin board with the covers of past reads circling a blank cover with a question mark. During the last week of school, I give hints to the students (we have a morning Flag; this could be done over the loudspeaker). When we read The Trumpet of the Swan, one hint was, “The author of this book has won a Newbery Medal and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.” The title is kept secret until the “Big Reveal.”

Timing and Introduction: Canterbury reads the book over 3 weeks. We launch the program the first full week of the school year, which allows teachers to focus on the OSOB without having to balance other curriculum reading. It also encourages parents to make reading every night a habit. On the first day of school, the Head of School receives a hardback copy (which will be given to the library), wrapped in brown paper. They are not allowed to unwrap it until the students get their copies the morning of The Big Reveal.

The Big Reveal is important! In past years we have had the PE teacher, wearing a helmet with mouse ears, deliver The Mouse and the Motorcycle on a scooter; a drone delivered a letter from our state Senator who was an astronaut when we read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet; a video of faculty reading Fenway and Hattie with their own pets followed by a student delivering the book to the principal in a “moving van” (a decorated pedal truck).

Curriculum tie-ins and activities: Journaling in science class and Boston baked beans for lunch (The Trumpet of the Swan); building beds and cricket cages in STEAM/Art, fortune cookies, learning about opera (The Cricket in Times Square). I created vocabulary bookmarks for Dominic. It was very time-consuming but worth it. I laminated them and encouraged students to keep them to study for their college entrance exams! The music teacher has highlighted musical styles or artists mentioned in books (opera, jazz), and the art teacher has created projects based on themes.

My job is to encourage teachers to think creatively, support them, and showcase their work. Many of the books lend themselves to lessons such as empathy or resilience – use the themed list provided or ask teachers for their thoughts.

I believe one of the decisions I made early on has been critical to student buy-in: there is to be NO testing on the book! Teachers may, for example, use the vocabulary, discuss themes, and incorporate geography into projects, but none of the work can count toward a grade. This constraint was the only area I had resistance from teachers, but after conversations about why, most – not all – have accommodated this request.

Family/student involvement: Along with the letters Read to Them provides, I send home a handout a week to parents, such as “Tips for Reading Out Loud to Young Students” and “Why Reading Out Loud to Older Students is Important.” Students are encouraged to create projects at home. They have created miniature school desks (The World According to Humphrey); a water horse built from a pumpkin base (The Water Horse); and paper dogs with knapsacks (Dominic). I encourage parents to send me pictures of the family reading together, which I post around the library. We do participate in the trivia program, with correct answers going into a basket from which I draw a winner from each grade level to get a trinket (bookmark, sticker, nothing big). Our head of school and other visitors or often-invisible staff (chaplain, reading, OT specialist) sometimes read the questions. Make the trivia easy on the teachers by providing pre-cut paper and a basket/baggie.

Wrap-Up: We read the last chapter together. One year we played the audio of The Trumpet of the Swan at a school assembly, but typically the teacher reads the last chapter in class. Every student receives a reading bracelet (purchased with book fair money the year before).

Be patient and kind to yourself! The program builds upon itself. Funding was difficult the first few years, but parents are now so enthused that they fundraise to pay for the books! It is easy to get overwhelmed and over plan; I think it is more important to have teachers and parents excited about a simple program than stressed about details in an elaborate one. Once they understand the power of this program, they will be volunteering to help! Good luck!

For Women’s History Month, Learn About Persistence from Lois Lowry, Grace Lin, and Janae Marks.

 “All the stories that you read, they will help you someday. They will give you the strength to get you through something someday.”  Three writers at three different stages in their careers each share stories – the struggles and the triumphs – of their journey to becoming successful writers.  Lois published her first book at age … Read more

Persistence: Doors, Maps, and Folding Chairs

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop pioneered the philosophy that children’s literature should serve as “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” Books should allow children to see themselves, see others, and enter new worlds. Thankfully, we are now hearing more and more about the role of mirrors providing representation and validation, and windows building empathy. But, as … Read more

Perkins Elementary Conducts Read-a-Thon for One School, One Book

Over more than a decade of program launches and anecdotes from educators, Read to Them has found that no One School, One Book looks exactly the same. We are constantly amazed by the ingenuity that program coordinators take to launch a successful event or – in this case– to ensure an OSOB program even lands … Read more

Read to Them Schools Receive Mother Cabrini Health Foundation Grants

Read to Them is incredibly honored to be selected as a Mother Cabrini Health Foundation grantee for 2022. Through this partnership, and the work of countless educators across the state, Read to Them is eager to continue to support vulnerable communities in each corner of New York. “As we look back at the compounding crises … Read more

Through the Lens of Quiet Courage

quiet – silent, noiseless, inaudible, low, soft, discreet, inobtrusive, soundless… courage – bravery, nerve, pluck, valor, daring, audacity, mettle, resolution, guts… At first glance, these words have no overlap, no lens-shaped area of commonality. And yet, if we use a sharper lens, we find that quiet can be an essential characteristic of courage. Lesa Cline-Ransome, … Read more

A Look at the 2022 ALA Youth Media Award Winners

We are fortunate to find ourselves in a golden age of children’s literature. With each year, the stories available to children of all ages are increasingly diverse, capturing a wide-range of experiences while respecting the emotional intelligence of young readers. Each January, the American Library Association (ALA) shares a slate of awards that recognize and … Read more

Less-Than-Likely Friendships

How an Imaginary Cat, a Plastic Ball and a Jazz Band Can Teach us a Little-Bit-More about the Less-Than-Likely Friendships Winnie-the-Pooh once famously told his best friend, Christopher Robin, “I knew when I met you, an adventure was going to happen.” And no one will ever forget when Charlotte said to Wilbur, “You have been … Read more

Authors Emily Jenkins and Katherine Applegate Talk Friendship

“I like what I see when I see myself through your eyes.” What does that mean to you? In this first At The Lamp-Post video interview, authors Emily Jenkins (Toys Go Out) and Katherine Applegate (Crenshaw) answer that very question. Follow along as they discuss their books and characters, as well as the magic of … Read more

Introducing At The Lamp-Post

“I can always get back if anything goes wrong,” thought Lucy. She began to walk forward, crunch-crunch over the snow and through the wood toward the other light. In about ten minutes she reached it and found it was a lamp-post.”           – C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and … Read more

One School, One Book Bridges Pre-K – 8th Grades in North Carolina Schools

One of the biggest challenges schools face in launching a One School, One Book program is making the event engaging for students of all ages. The staff at Smyrna Elementary and Down East Middle School in Smyrna, North Carolina have spent years getting this feat down to a science.  “Some staff and students have been … Read more

10 Years of One School, One Book at Walnut Ridge Elementary

For the last decade, students at Walnut Ridge Elementary in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas have bolstered their curriculum by celebrating an annual One School, One Book event. The school-wide program is considered the highlight of the year.  “OSOB has impacted our students by cultivating a love of reading that extends beyond elementary school,” shares Jessica Light, … Read more

7 Read Aloud Tips to Engage Your Listener

Some parents are reluctant to read aloud because they lack the confidence, find it intimidating, or just struggle to find the time. To help out – and in tandem with Read Aloud to a Child Week – Read to Them is sharing seven strategies to build confidence and help keep young listeners engaged.    Finding … Read more

Capitalizing on the Pandemic for Positive Learning

This is a guest post by Mary Curcio, NYS Regional Coordinator.  We all know children have suffered losses in student learning during the pandemic.  However, research suggests that by using the right parent support tools, it is possible to mitigate or offset these losses by compensating and enriching student learning. Read to Them’s family literacy … Read more