Earlier this year, the 600 students at King’s Highway Elementary in Coatesville, Pennsylvania participated in their very first One School, One Book program. Students, staff, and parents are all hopeful it is just the beginning of their read aloud journey.
Hillory Rusnak, the Reading Specialist at King’s Highway, served as the facilitator and coordinator of the OSOB event. Given that it was her school’s first year participating in a school-wide reading program, she wanted to make the book selection process special.
“I picked six titles,” Rusnak shares. “I put them on our bulletin board with a little synopsis. Then we had a parent night where I talked about the program and discussed the six titles; parents then voted on which one they thought we should read. Then one day I went into the lunchroom and gave each student a ticket and had them vote. So when the vote was in… it built excitement!”
Parents and students ultimately selected Katherine Applegate’s beloved novel, The One and Only Ivan.
To Rusnak, the time her students and staff spent with OSOB has been invaluable.
“I knew we were having an impact when I saw the kids’ excitement about the book as we were reading,” Rusnak says. “They were talking about reading in the halls!”
This past June, King’s Highway Elementary also read Roald Dahl’s The BFG in a One District, One Book event with four other elementary schools in Coatesville.
“When parents told me their student wanted the next book in the series for a present and when I gave them a book for the summer as we were doing One District, One Book, they started clapping. This has never happened before when I gave them books!”
For educators setting out to launch their first OSOB, Rusnak offers a bit of advice:
“You get out of it what you put in,” she says. “You can’t just give the students a book and be done. It needs to be a coordinated effort – trivia, Kahoots, bulletin boards, parents, administrators, teachers, too. All [elements] need to work together to make the [event] a success.”
Looking ahead to the 2022-23 school year, Rusnak shares that she’s excited to keep building her community of readers, as well as see students get excited reading and diving into a new book.
“Overall, [our first OSOB] was a blur of a month,” Rusnak says. “But it had an incredible impact. Capacity takes time – those who participated were all in, and my hope is with the excitement and the accessibility, we will encourage more to join the fun next time!”