Program highlights importance of books

MARSHALL — You know you’re doing something right when children are thrilled about reading — and that excitement was pretty obvious on Monday afternoon at Lakeview School as preschool and elementary school students waited for organizers to reveal what book was chosen this year for the One School, One Book challenge.

After engaging the students with process-of-elimination clues — ones where the students learned that the book involved dog sledding — “Stone Fox” by John Reynolds Gardiner was revealed to be Lakeview School’s ninth annual OSOB selection.

“One School, One Book highlights the importance of reading together at home,” Lee said. “It really comes down to that — all the benefits of reading together as a family at home. It’s a good program.”

While reading has been shown to be instrumental to academic success, having the entire school take part in the program is also a lot of fun. Dress-up days and other activities also take place during February, which is “I Love to Read” month.

“I just love how the kids get so excited when the title comes out,” Lee said. “I give books to the custodians, cooks, our social worker, music and phy-ed teachers, special education teachers, all the paraprofessionals and of course, classroom teachers. Even with a school our size, we’re still able to make that happen.”

When Lee took time to thank the Lakeview Booster’s Club and PTO for helping fund the venture, the auditorium erupted with applause.

“Each family will receive one book because the idea is that you’re reading together at home,” Lee said. “Maybe you’re an older student who can read aloud or else a parent can read to a younger student. Everyone can start (Monday night), so you’re ready for the questions at school the next day from (elementary principal Melissa Wilber).”

Sixth-grader Bridget Teske said she was excited to participate in the OSOB program.

I think it’s really cool because we get to read a book as a family,” Teske said. “Everybody gets to know the same thing. And when we get to answer the questions, then we know more about the book. We can all learn a lot of stuff about what the book is about.”

Past books read at Lakeview include: “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” “The Trumpet of the Swan,” “The Indian in the Cupboard,” “Stuart Little,” “The World According to Humphrey,” “The Cricket in Times Square” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Last year, the school community read “The Lemonade War.”

“The tricky part is just finding the right title for preschool through sixth-grade students,” Lee said. “So it has to be something that works for everybody. I have to be careful about the content for students at every level.”

“Stone Fox” is shorter than most of the previous books, so Lee said it will only take about two weeks to read this year.

“Most often, the book reading lasts three weeks,” Lee said. “This one is a little shorter. The chapter links are only 7-10 pages and the font is fairly large. You want students to try and read every night, but if a family gets behind, they can make it up easily.”

Lee explained that “Stone Fox” was a book about a boy named Willy.

“He does do some dog sledding in this story,” she said. “It takes place in Wyoming. I know we don’t have a lot of dog sledding in Minnesota — maybe in northern Minnesota, but not so much around here. So we’re going to watch a video to learn more about it.”

The excitement level rose again as the students watched the dog sledding video.

“It’s looks exciting,” Teske said.

Fifth-grader Logan Long said he thought being a sled dog driver would be fun.

“I would actually want to do that,” Long said. “It looks pretty fun.”

When asked what he thought about the book, Long said: “I’ve never read it, but I think it’s going to be great.”

Students are encouraged to keep up with the reading assignments every night so they can answer the questions the following day.

“Mrs. Wilber videotapes herself doing the questions and then shares it with everyone,” Lee said. “She’s quite technologically-advanced, so I’m sure she’s figured out a way to do that.”

Two groups of sixth-graders were called up on stage to take part in a mock sled dog race.

“We’ve asked some of the sixth-graders to come up on stage since it’s their last year participating in One School, One Book,” Lee said.

Then, before heading home for the day, the students had the opportunity to watch one more short dog sledding video.

“This one is part of the Iditarod in Alaska,” Lee said. “It’s quite a dangerous trip. They travel at night. They have wipe-outs and one lady falls into a cold river. It’s not always a very happy, fun time, but it’s a good challenge for people who like to do that with their dogs.”