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One Book One School

By Garrett O’Dell
 | Jun 29, 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-499580999_x300Imagine 300+ families reading one book simultaneously.

At G. Stanley Hall Elementary School we accomplished this through a project called “One Book One School.” We know bringing families together through literature can be a strong bond to help connect parents to their children's schooling by a single book. We also know that many parents want to help at home. One of the best ways to help is by reading aloud. With One Book One School, our building came together to read one chapter book at the same time, usually over the course of a couple weeks. I had the chance to embark on the reading adventure with the book The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

A night assembly where parents were invited to school to learn about the journey and chance to enjoy a book with their children kick-started the experience. Each family received a copy of the book. Families who spoke Spanish as their first language received the Spanish version of the book. We gave them a schedule of when to read what chapter and showed them a website that was set up to accompany them. The website featured the schedule and videos of featured guest readers. We were off!

Each morning a question about the book blared from the speakers. Students were given strips of paper to record their response. I collected the responses as a class, and we discussed the question. Correct answers were brought to the office and entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize, usually something sweet shaped into a mouse or a car. Students were buzzing each day for a chance to answer the question.

By sharing one book with students across all grades and their families, we shared the love of reading with our entire school, not just one class. Students enjoyed having a chance to share their thoughts about the book with their friends, and the event helped spark further interest in Beverly Clearly, as some students continued to check out her other books.

Other teachers were willing to help those students whose parents chose not to participate by allowing them to watch the readings of the chapters or reading the chapter aloud to their class. It was just another chance for teachers to share their love of reading. Also, teachers were able to hit those ever-important Standards while discussing the book.

Many families in our school do not have the money to buy books, and this event put a book in their hands. One Book One School is a start. For the school, the cost of the program starts with the book, but the only other expense would be for prizes; a website is certainly optional.

In the end, parents appreciated the support they found in One Book One School. Through the program, they found a new way to interact with their children by sharing parts of The Mouse and the Motorcycle they loved and discussing why the author may have chose to write the way she did. In the end, it felt like this successful journey came to an end too soon.

Garrett ODell_hsGarrett O’Dell is a fourth-grade teacher at G. Stanley Hall Elementary School in Nebraska.



Leave a comment
  1. Elizabeth L Zanayed | Feb 22, 2018
    Do you have any books at the elementary level in dual languages or translated into Arabic?
  2. Garrett O'Dell | Jan 04, 2017


    A couple titles I would recommend for middle grades book would be Small Steps by Louis Sachar, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, and Crossover by Kwame Alexander. 

  3. Shelley Fenton | Sep 27, 2016

    Our school is looking to implement this program this year and would love to hear more about your progress of getting it up and running. Please let me know if you would have the time to chat with me about this wonderful project.

  4. Leslie Parker-Earll | Sep 27, 2016
    I have done this before at another school, it is successful. Now, I am at a middle school. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good middle school book
  5. Gerald N. Bukenya | Jul 07, 2016

    I have read the message on the strategy of making parents read to and with their children. It is quite exciting for you are able to teach learners and parents as well!

    However Iam unable to join you for the conference but I would appreciate if some good literature on reading and Literacy in general could be posted to me 

    Yours Gerald N. Bukenya

  6. Missing user | Jul 06, 2016
    My apologies. That was an error inserted during the editing process. It's been corrected. Thank you for reaching out!
  7. Garret O'Dell | Jul 06, 2016
    I teach at G. Stanley Hall Elementary School in Nebraska. The location is incorrect on by biography. 
  8. Diane | Jul 04, 2016
    I work at this school and have never heard of this guy.

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