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Neihardt Elementary Makes Unforgettable Memories with OSOB!

OMAHA, NEBRASKA – Neihardt Elementary is located in Omaha, Nebraska and serves approximately 475 students across preschool through fifth grades. For the last four years, One School, One Book has not only been a staple of their school community, but a tradition families look forward to each year. 

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A stunning classroom display for The Water Horse.

According to Lindsey Holes, the Math and Reading Intervention Specialist at Neihardt, the previous administrator had heard about OSOB through other schools in the area that participated in the program. Their goal was to increase family engagement at Neihardt, as well as allow families to engage their students as readers and get them excited about literacy. 

“We love the idea that every staff member and every child have a chance to be doing something together,” Holes says. “[OSOB] creates a literacy-rich atmosphere and a positive community where students get so excited to be part of it. We also believe that it is an amazing opportunity for our families to participate in something together, something that allows their child to grow in so many ways. It leads to conversation, and it helps foster the love and importance that reading can bring.” 

After participating in OSOB for so many years, the staff at Neihardt have the book selection process down to a science. 

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Neihardt staff dive into The Fourteenth Goldfish!

“We get our staff members to help choose a book and gather ideas and activities to go along with it,” Holes explains. “We have a core team that helps plan out the entire event and we have used social media and newsletters to inform our families when the event will take place.” 

Neihardt’s staff creates their own website for the event and sends home a calendar and activity packet with the selected book to each family. The website includes daily videos of Neihardt staff reading each chapter, as well as links to additional activities. The videos have proven vital in making OSOB accessible to all families and to students at school during the day. Pictures are posted quite frequently during the event, and any additional program information is shared to ensure families are engaged from start to finish. 

But don’t fret – the excitement is nurtured at school, as well!  

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A giant version of Roz the Robot!

“We host an all-school assembly that helps introduce students to what the book will be,” Holes adds. “We also host different trivia days at school where students can win prizes for engaging with the story.” 

Holes understands that OSOB can be hard work, especially for a school launching their event for the first time. 

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A live bagpipe player to celebrate reading The Water Horse.

“Our advice would be to gather a team of people who will be the brains and the organization for the event.” Hole reiterates that a lot of the hard work is done before the program rolls out. She also adds it is important to, “Use the resources [provided by Read to Them in your client portal] and reach out to other schools who have maybe done the same book. Some of our greatest ideas have come from amazing things we have seen other schools doing on social media. Have fun with it– and find a way to kick off the event to get the kids ready and excited for the book!” 

In terms of a favorite memory, though, Holes says there’s too many to count. 

“One of our favorite memories from OSOB was when our school read The Wild Robot.” Holes goes on to share that, “One of our staff member’s husbands created a giant version of Roz that hung out in our school’s entryway during the event. The giant changed along with the story, and even had a goose friend and a special boot by the end.” 

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Roz and Brightbill star in a colorful mural at Neihardt.

Holes shares that another special memory was during their school’s family engagement night during their read of The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith. To honor the story’s Scotland setting, they made Scotland the theme of the night – going as far as having a live bagpipe player perform for families who attended. Each culminating family night has brought families in to see firsthand how all the staff and students interacted with the book. This has only continued to contribute to Neihardt’s goals of growing their family engagement and nurturing their student’s love of literacy. 

As she looks ahead, Holes says that they are looking forward to organizing their next OSOB event, and that they are constantly on the lookout for new and fun ways to make it a success at home and school. 

“Since COVID,” Holes says. “We have been slowly rebuilding our culminating family event night. We’re excited to keep making [One School, One Book] a better, more engaging event each year!”

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