NEW HAVEN — From the classrooms to the cafeteria, the office to the buses, everyone at New Haven Elementary School is talking about what is going to happen to Sophie.
“One School, One Book” is a project on which the school embarked this week, where 600 copies of Ronald Dahl’s book, “The BFG,” were distributed not only to the students, but also teachers, administrators, cooks, janitors, bus drivers, and more. They will all read the book over the next few weeks, with the project climaxing at “The BFG Family Fun Night.”
The project is the brainstorm of fifth grade teacher Jacque Richardson. She, along with fellow teachers Shayla Blackshire, Courtney Smith, Kirsten James, Kathy Baker, Angelia Gilkey and Danyal VanMeter, make up the Accelerated Reading Committee, which purchased the books.
The goal, Richardson said, is simple – to get the entire school community, as well as parents, involved in reading. The book is about a young orphan girl, Sophie, who is kidnapped by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), and taken to a faraway land populated by giants and dreams.
With each book distributed, a reading schedule was given out to help parents follow their child’s journey through the book. Parents are encouraged to read the book to their younger children, listen to their older children read it, or gather the entire family to read round robin style.
Richardson said following the first day of the event, a family of six students at the school were excited to relay how they all got together to read with their grandma.
At school, some of the teachers are reading each day’s chapters aloud to their class. Others are designating times for classes to have silent reading. But all are joining in on fun activities that go with the book, such as creating bulletin boards and engaging in special lessons in math, social studies, science, and language arts that use book components.
A trivia question is asked over the intercom system each day by Principal Walter Raynes, and students with correct answers are entered into drawings for small prizes. Raynes also kicked off the event by reading the first chapter on the school’s Facebook page.
One chapter of the book includes the story of a “royal breakfast.” On the day that chapter is read, the cooks are serving breakfast for lunch, and Richardson and Blackshire said the cafeteria will be decked out with tablecloths, silver trays, and other finery.
Blackshire said she was excited about the project because it involves everyone at the school.
“I thought how wonderful it would be for janitors, secretaries, the principal, to be able to talk to these kids each day about the book,” she said.
And the project is now reaching beyond the school. Beth Foreman, who leads the after-school program “The Good News Club,” got her own copy and plans to incorporate it into her lessons, Blackshire said.
The project’s finale will be March 22 at 6 p.m., when families will join at the school to watch “The BFG” movie. Variations of snacks from the book, including “snozzcumbers” and “frobscottle” will be served. Those attending are invited to bring lawn chairs for seating.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.