Schools shed light on family reading time

  • Oct. 1, 2014 2:57 p.m.

Hundreds of children and parents enjoyed a new multi-school reading encouragement project rolled out Monday as the ‘One book, Three Schools’ initiative began.

Children enjoyed electricity-themed games and projects at the opening reception to honour the subject, City of Ember, such as building battery packs, a Van de Graaff generator, a Wimshurst machine, getting their photo taken and more.

“What we wanted to do was create an initiative where we invited all of our families to come in and get involved in literacy. So we focus on one book for Grades K to 8, so it’s a challenge picking the right book. This is our second year on the project. Last year we did the Good Dog by Avi. And this year we’re doing City of Ember (by Jeanne DuPrau),” said Principal Della Ruston of West Park Middle School.

“The challenge here was finding a book that appealed to Grade 8 boys and to Kindergarten students. Because this is a read-aloud, and the hope is that families sit down together in the evening or weekends – whenever they can – and we do have a calendar for when we hope they will be reading together.”

The program involves Mattie McCullough, West Park Elementary and West Park Middle schools. The two elementary schools feed into West Park Middle School. The program will run from October to November with the hope of families reading a chapter each night.

Ruston said that this project is one of several that will bring elementary school students to the junior high so that they can get comfortable when they enter into junior high.

“Doing this project among elementary and middle feeder schools helps build that reading community and intake,” said Ruston. “Transitioning into middle school is a big event, but these students will have come here for a number of things and events before they attend our school, making it feel like another home. We want those kids to come in and feel that this is their school too. That was one of the biggest things to happen to us last year.”

The One Book, Three Schools project was initiated last year and received good response, said Ruston. She said that last year, over 700 students were involved and this time it’s closer to 950 to 1,000.

Ruston said she wants to build a community of readers and families to connect, spend time together and build that reading community.

A chapter a day is the goal for the readings. Each chapter will also be aloud by a celebrity at the following website:

“The biggest thing was kids getting excited about reading with their families. This year, we picked a book that’s a part of a series with the hope that they’ll kind of get hooked. We did that purposely this year because we want to hook them in and get them excited,” said Ruston.

“I had a woman say something rather profound last year. She said, ‘When my daughter started to read by herself in Grade 2, I stopped reading to her.’ She then said that this project made them start reading together as a family and that she had forgotten how fun it was and how close it brought her to her daughter.”

The project will wrap up with a celebration event for participants on Nov. 17th which will also include a Skyped conversation with the book’s author, Jeanne DuPrau.