As one of twenty schools in Indiana participating in the “One School, One Book” program, every person at Mt. Comfort Elementary (MCE), including cafeteria workers, bus drivers, as well as all staff and students, received the same book "School Days According to Humphrey" by Betty G. Birney. The books were purchased from funds raised through the Box Tops program. Each book included a bookmark with the reading schedule at the kick-off. The “One School, One Book” convocation included a staff classroom skit, complete with line dancing and the class pet, Humphrey, dancing in the spotlight.
School activities such as math lessons, daily trivia with prizes, and surprise character visits will encourage all readers to participate. There will also be a prize at the end of the book for one lucky trivia contestant.
Broadening the reach of the community, some school board members and administration are even joining in the "One School, One Book" fun of reading "School Days According to Humphrey"! The "One School, One Book" website can be located under "Parents" and "Students" on www.mce.mvcsc.k12.in.us. On the website, guest readers in the community have recorded chapters to help the younger students. Some of the guest readers include: an Olympic gymnast, a Colts player, a School Board member and Principal Heather Whitaker.
Principal Heather Whitaker states, “When a whole school reads a book, there is a lot to talk about! This is the fourth year we have participated and have a lot of exciting activities planned for this particular book. We aim to build a ‘Community of Readers’ at MCE. A reading schedule was distributed which results in approximately 15 minutes of reading each night at home during the month of February. Children are rewarded for attentive listening and take pride in knowing and anticipating how the story unfolds.”
The “One School, One Book” program can have a positive impact on the entire community. Parents are encouraged to read the book aloud at home so the family can take part in the discussions. Parents play an important part in their child’s learning and development of a lifelong love of reading. A growing body of research describes the complex and permanent positive effects of reading aloud. One main benefit is that children learn to read more easily and become more fluent readers. Literacy skills provide the basis for a productive lifetime of learning. Parents set an example and reading together becomes a shared activity.
Principal Whitaker states, “Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares children to be an effective reader while at the same time serve as a fun, worthwhile family activity. Reading professionals recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s own reading level. It is also recommended to read chapter books aloud with older children, even when they are able to read by themselves.”