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 

YH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Our 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 WrapsYH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7. 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

YH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Choosing 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!


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