By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
SHARPSVILLE — In the kick-off assembly for a schoolwide reading program “One School, One Book,” Sharpsville Elementary students from grades two through four acted out a chapter from the chosen book. The book, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” by Kate DiCamillo, is about growing through life experiences.
It covers issues of poverty, homelessness and death. But “the overall message of the book is positive,” said Principal Matt Dieter.
Jennifer Toney, second-grade teacher and scriptwriter for the performance, said, “The kids were so excited with the play and wanted to know when the next chapter was going to be acted out.” She said the performance would be the only play for the month-long program.
The kids did not use microphones, but kept the audience’s attention. “The 600 students from the school were a captivated audience,” said Dieter.
“We really wanted to get students excited about the book, and it worked,” said Toney.
Deiter said the idea for “One School, One Book,” offered by a company out of Virginia, was proposed by fourth-grade teacher Heidi Abi-Nader and had been in the works for a year.
The school bought about 525 books, with help from area businesses. A book was given to each elementary family, with the idea of reading aloud to the kids over one month.
Even though the program is voluntary, Dieter said the participation rate was high. If families opted out, the book was given as a gift to be read later.
“The goal of this project is to bring families together to enjoy a good book,” Dieter said.
This was the first time the school offered the reading program, but Dieter said teachers would like to make it an annual event. “One book a year,” he said.
In school, the kids are invited to answer daily trivia questions to encourage and reward attentive listening. In class, there may be various activities and discussions.
“It is very exciting to see the children all carrying around the book in the halls and talking about it,” said Dieter.
“Read to Them,” are the consultants that help tailor the program to fit the school.
They also provide tips for reading aloud which were passed along to parents. A teacher’s guide with discussion points, essay ideas, quick write projects, art projects, and a crossword puzzle were also a part of the package.