One School, One Book: Reading to Your Children

How do you reason with a nine-year-old who decides he doesn't like reading anymore? How do you change "Reading is stupid" to "This book is awesome!"?

One of the things I love most about my children's school () 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 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!

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cherylwithac September 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Reading to one's children is not a unique or brand-new idea. My father read to me every night for years when I was growing up. And we read the books that we wanted to read, not ones selected for us by the school board.
Heather Lambie September 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM
My father read to me every night growing up as well and I have read to my own children long before this program. Having a book everyone can discuss is just a nice way for the school to encourage a quiet, unplugged family time together in this technological 21st century. Also, our Lower School library has over 11,000 volumes of age-appropriate children's books and our students visit the library once a week and may check out any books they choose. My daughter is currently reading (in addition to Trumpet of the Swan), the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo (about a pig who's a spy) and loving them!
Jodi Gustafson September 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Cheryl, that is so wonderful. You are lucky, so many kids do not have parents that read to them (or know the advantages). Once my daughter started reading, I almost thought it was "cheating" to read to her and consequently, I cut back. I now know the error of my ways and read to her nightly! An advantage of an all-school book is that it gives kids the opportunity to read something they may not pick out themselves and they are actually discussing the book with their classmates outside the classroom! Shocking, I know! :)
Hochadels September 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
We have literally been reading to our children since they were born (and still read to them EVERY night with few exceptions)! It is lovely to have the school offer us a choice like this to engage our whole family as our family 'grows up". A fondly remembered favorite of my childhood, "The Trumpet of the Swan" (which I had forgotten about until this effort) is now being shared with my kids. We love talking about the characters, and if Louis and Serena will at last fall in love.......
Wilder September 13, 2012 at 09:58 PM
In a world, that is moving quite quickly and full of great things. Things that do pull one member of the family this way and the other that way. This campaign, "One school One book", has done the very opposite!! It so reminded me of that precious time so well spent as a family!! We always need a lil' reminding :-) So, we have had fun re-reading this classic with our 3 youngest included on this go round. Without naming any names:-) this adorable classic has yet again brought our oldest to tears and laughter. Even at 15! So fun to share something that spans across the ages...... Thanks for getting us back on track Mrs. Garrison!!


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