Uniting the Verona Community in a Shared Read Aloud Experience

by Corisa Walker, Elementary Librarian & Nicole Stuto, Brookdale Avenue School Principal

Can you imagine the excitement that builds around reading when every person in the school community has read the same book? While the idea of everyone reading together is simple, the impact and value is vast. One District, One Book unites the Verona Community in a shared reading experience. It is a program designed to include all four Verona elementary schools reading the same book at the same time. One District, One Book is essentially a town-wide book club, which includes cross-curricular activities, blogging, and a rich culminating experience that celebrates the book. For the past four years, the One District, One Book program, supported through the SCA’s and the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE), has provided everyone in the school community with a book. The school administrative assistants read the book. The custodians read the book. The lunch aides read the book. Every student, parent, administrator, and support staff member read the book.

One District, One Book is designed to be a shared read aloud experience and a time for families to commit to reading together each night for the duration of the program. All parents, those of fluent readers as well as those of beginning readers, are asked to read the book aloud to their children. In a time of hectic schedules, One District, One Book provides an opportunity to spend this time enjoying a book together. Along with the book, families are provided with a reading calendar which outlines what chapter to read each night. Families are also invited to follow along with a nightly blog post, where they may answer questions about the book. This provides an opportunity for parents to witness the type of thinking skills within a text that students do during reading instruction on a daily basis.

The program’s inception in 2012 began with a setting of New York City with The Cricket in Times Square. Since then we have partnered with Alex’s Lemonade Stand while reading The Lemonade War. We have traveled back in time to the Middle Ages with Kenny and the Dragon, transforming Verona into a two day Renaissance Faire. Most recently, we learned all about marine life while reading Nim’s Island, and had a day of touch tank exhibits from the Camden Adventure Aquarium. The excitement that builds leading up to the program is incredible.The book selection is kept under tight wraps, with only small clues given in the days leading up to the book reveal. Verona families can’t wait to hear what book we will be reading at the annual One District, One Book kick-off assembly. Verona teachers get so excited about reading that they perform a flash mob celebrating the excitement of the program. Verona children cheer when they finally hear what book they will get to read.

The benefits of being read to are endless. Reading aloud to children of all ages builds their vocabulary and listening skills. It allows children to develop their curiosity and nurture their imagination. It furthers their exposure to the cadence of language, which in turn develops their own fluency and comprehension skills. Furthermore, it fosters a lifelong love and appreciation for reading. One District, One Book takes reading beyond the classroom. Year after year, a love of reading continues to be spread throughout the community.

Renaissance Fair Performers on stage presenting for our students
Renaissance Fair Acrobat performing with Superintendent Dionisio
Elementary Librarians Corisa Walker and Katie McAuliffe at the Renaissance Fair

Click here to read more articles in the Verona Public Schools Magazine 2016-2017 Edition.