Remember One Book, One City? When the whole city read the same book? Colleges, high schools and grade schools do that, too. And I can’t think of a good reason not to encourage our friends in the art museums to follow suit! I went to a session called One Book, One School at an Indiana Library Federation conference and have tips that all Shared System members can adapt to your own settings!
Pre-reading. Choose the book. Ask for nominations or create your own list of nominations. You could use a Google Doc to list the books, costs and themes and share it with your committees or your teachers. Watch what people are reading; listen to them talk about books they’re excited about. Look at the Young Hoosier Book Award nominees. Can you connect the books to curriculum standards, school themes, mottos or other activities? (For example, IMA friends – your upcoming exhibit on grafitti from the 70s and 80s might lend itself a discussion of one of John Updike’s collections of his essays on art (Just Looking, Still Looking, or Always Looking). If you’re worried about the range of book levels, see if you can find a theme and select books at several levels. Think about how you’re going to pay for the books, and how many copies you’ll need. Make sure it’s still in print! (See if you can find an independently owned bookstore to get it for you – they have relationships with distributors that they can tap into.)
Getting Ready. Give the books to teachers two months ahead. Plan decorations, flyers, parent letters and how you’re going to get the book to your readers. One of the schools had a parent who went all out on the decorations – and students had to see if they could guess the book from her decorations in the school lobby. Hand out the book at a back to school night or other event and ask students to write their names in it right away. Make sure parents know about the book and encourage them to read it, too. At one school, the letter pointed out that the books were NOT required reading, but that the activities and discussion surrounding it would be so cool that kids would want to have read it so they could participate. They also pointed out how this activity helped kids build up their reading stamina. One of the speakers pointed out that there was no accountability for having read the book – on purpose. They wanted students to read voluntarily, to get the idea that, even though you are busy, reading is a fun activity you can choose to do. Schedule how much reading students need to do each week so you can tie trivia questions in with what will have been read each week.
During Reading. There’s so much you can do here! One school kicked it off by having a 30 minute read aloud broadcast on their classroom TVs the first day. They did weekly trivia questions from the book – maybe during silent reading time and held drawings for people with the correct answers. You could also bring in fine arts or core content connections, and even add a service learning component directly tied to the book. (These ideas would really be helped by having a committee to implement them!)
Post Reading. Do follow up surveys with students, parents and teachers. Ask for ideas for the next book! If your students don’t want to keep their books, think about collecting them and sharing them with another school so they can do their own One Book, One School.
Let us hear from you if you decide to implement One Book, One School.