One book, one school
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Oct 23, 2013
“Charlotte’s Web” is a classic children’s book about friendship and salvation on a farm between Wilbur, a runty pig, and Charlotte, a heroic spider, penned by E.B. White and published in 1952, so some 61 years later you wouldn’t expect Charlotte the Spider to still be spinning a web — but a few first grade students at Oakes Field Primary School actually thought they had found Charlotte the Spider under a bench at their campus the other day … actually, every spider they now see they believe they’ve found Charlotte.
The first grade students along with the rest of the student body is currently engrossed in the reading of “Charlotte’s Web” as a part of the school’s third annual One Book One School Program in which children at all grade levels listen to the same book being read.
Parents and guardians of students are asked to read a chapter a night to their children, making it a family event, Monday through Friday. They do not read on weekends or holidays. Teachers also read to the students in class and give students trivia questions about the chapter that was read the night before.
According to the One Book One School program coordinator, Joya Cash, a first grade teacher at the school, reading professionals recommend reading material aloud that is beyond a child’s own reading level. And that it is also believed that adults should continue reading chapter books with older children even when they are able to read by themselves.
Cash says they chose to read “Charlotte’s Web” because it’s a book that can be followed, understood and enjoyed by younger students, but would still captivate and stimulate older children.
According to Cash, when an entire student population reads a book there’s a lot to talk about. And that their goal is to build a community of readers at their school.
The One Book One School Program was integrated with the school’s Literacy Week, but it was still separate as the book-reading program started September 30 and will end on November 1, with the student population watching the movie version to the book.
Throughout the month, the Oakes Field Primary students engaged in exciting competitions surrounding the book. The program kicked off with a “Charlotte’s Web” theme song competition and board decoration competition, and Cash said the teachers were just as competitive as the students. Each class wrote a song about reading about “Charlotte’s Web” and had to perform them. Outten’s second grade class was chosen the overall winner. The entire school body had to learn the winning song that was sung at various events during the course of the month.
All of the display boards at the school had to be decorated by the teachers in décor that spoke to the book, and the message on the boards had to be appropriate for their grade level, and speak to some of the messages out of the book that speaks a lot to friendship and fantasy.
The board-decorating win went to the sixth-grade teachers. They presented a board with a lot of vocabulary words that were appropriate for upper primary school students that the students were encouraged to look up in the dictionary and use the words.
On Wednesdays during the month, the students engaged in buddy-partner reading. After they had eaten lunch, upper primary students partnered with lower primary students to read to them.
“It worked out so well,” said Cash. “They sat in their little corners, and even though there was a buzz of reading all going at the same time, they were so engrossed.”
Every Friday during the month the students also wore “Charlotte’s web” designed t-shirts made up by a first grade teacher at the school.
As the One Book One School Program comes to a close, the student body at Oakes Field Primary will engage in a Junkanoo Rush-out in the streets near the school on Thursday, October 24. Students are asked to dress up in costume based on characters in the book — Wilbur the Pig or Charlotte the Spider — for the parade that will traverse from Gregory Street on to Moss Road, past C.C. Sweeting Senior School to Thompson Boulevard to the Sir Harry Oakes Monument and back to the school’s campus. The movie day and last official day to wear the “Charlotte’s Web” shirts end the activities.
Cash said the program was a success.
“I have gotten so much good feedback. The kids… they’re excited about it and want to hear what’s going to happen next. Actually, a male parent came to me who I had never seen before and said he just had to come and tell me how much he and his wife were enjoying the book. He didn’t even mention the child. He said every night he tells them not to start reading without him. He said he was actually trying to go ahead of the school, but his wife keeps telling him no, that they have to stay with the schedule,” said Cash.
She hopes that at the end of the book the children realize that reading is fun and something they need. She said she wants them to know that it’s not a chore and not just something that they do at school to get through the day, or to get through an assignment. Cash also hopes parents realize that they are role models for their children and that parents should want their children to see that they like to read.