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One School, One Book: Using Books to Bring a School Community Together

Last month, I shared some of the ways we build passion for books and reading across our entire network. Now, I’d like to spotlight one of my personal favorites: One School, One Book.

One School, One Book is a powerful literacy initiative designed to help an entire school community—kids and grownups alike—fall in love with books. We piloted the program last year and have now rolled it out to all first- and second-year schools. Soon, we’ll take this initiative network-wide with books for elementary, middle, and high school communities to share.

At Success Academy, One School, One Book means that every class in the school reads the same chapter book over the course of two to three weeks. Teachers plan together and coordinate their schedules so classes keep pace with one another. This fosters conversation and collaboration across all classrooms and grades in the school. Science, art, and music teachers all get involved, working to create book tie-ins in their subject areas.

Scholars in first grade classrooms write letters to each other about their favorite characters. Kindergartners join first graders for book discussions, which helps the younger kids think and express more complex ideas and provides opportunities for older kids to be excellent role models. The entire school gets together to perform skits and sing songs about the book. Some schools have a special One School, One Book Day when the entire school community reads the final chapter of the book together.

Every grownup in the school gets involved to help create school-wide buzz around the book. Scholars already know that their principal and their teachers love books, but there’s an extra level of excitement when kids find out that their school’s business operations manager or office coordinator is reading right along with them! Teachers invite colleagues to do a guest read aloud or sit with their class during lunch for a special book discussion.

Of course, we encourage parents to get involved, too! Whether they are invited to watch book-related performances, be a special parent reader, or sit in on a book discussion, families help build the excitement of One School, One Book.

This year, our first-year schools are reading Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins, and our second-year schools are reading A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith.

We’re thrilled to be expanding participation in One School, One Book every year. Please check social media in the coming weeks for photos and stories from our participating schools.

Written by Sara Yu March 20, 2015

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