One of the things I love most about my children's school (Canterbury School of Florida) is all the experiential learning opportunities for students. The faculty and staff are always coming up with new ways to engage students outside the classroom.
The latest example of this began the second week of school, when our Lower School librarian introduced the One School, One Book idea. Basically, as stated on the website, it is this:
"One School, One Book is a program designed to create a shared reading experience within a single elementary school community. A chapter book is chosen, every family in the elementary school receives a copy, and every family reads that book at home over the course of a single month. Activities at school coordinate, promote and enrich the shared reading experience."
This summer I encountered personal challenges with my nine-year-old son when he decided all of a sudden that he didn't like to read anymore. What happened between the summer months that changed last year's, "This book is awesome!" to this year's "Reading is stupid."?
I didn't know. But I was determined to re-introduce my son to the wonders of books, and held a family meeting to announce that every evening, from 7:00 - 7:30 p.m., we would all sit in the living room, unplug our electronics and read for 30 minutes. Together.
It worked fine in the few weeks leading up to the first day of school, but I was doubtful it would continue to work once the hectic pace of school, homework, flag football, gymnastics and the never-ending parade of birthday parties set in.
Imagine my delight when, during the second week of school, our Lower School Principal announced the One School, One Book program and both my kids arrived home with the same book for us to read together, as a family! It completely reinforced my mandatory family reading agenda.
Every student in the Lower School, from PK3 - grade 4 ,received a copy of the book and they must read (or be read to) one chapter every night. The following morning at the Flag ceremony (a morning gathering for announcements by students and parents) a question is asked about the book, and children can raise their hands to answer for a prize.
The book we are reading is E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan. Not everyone loves it, which is expected, but everyone is talking about it, which is exceptional. It's a great conversation opener for parents and kids to discuss not only the book itself, but all the topics covered in the book – such as environmental protection, bullying and triumph over adversity... all topics that Canterbury reinforces through its character education and marine studies programs.
If your school does not do the One School, One Book program, consider starting a family reading club with several families, where everyone can read and discuss one book (parents and children). You'll be surprised by how engaged your children become with you AND with books!