by Shawna Chigro-Rogers
You can enjoy a good book, share it with a friend, and recommend it to a book club. How often can you find an opportunity to read that book with everyone in your school at the same time? Would it be possible to get the author to visit your school to talk about the book? Could that discussion be opened up to your town community? Meet that opportunity: One Book, One School.
Merry Stuhr, Harrison Middle School Librarian, submitted this grant to the YEF. What came about was a unique experience that unified the school and the community, and exceeded their expectations.
One Book. Alabama Moon by Watt Key, is a coming-of-age novel for young adults. This book was specifically selected by Stuhr because of its broad reach and varied readership.
“I really liked Alabama Moon, it kept me on the edge of my seat and I wanted to hold the book in my own hand so I could keep turning to the next page,” stated an eighth grade student. “My teacher read with a southern accent which helped to imagine the story. I would really like to be able to do this again.”
As teachers read the book to their students, other staff members were reading it as well. Discussion groups made up of mixed grades were formed. Key visited the school and intimate sessions with the author were conducted with each grade.
“The visit from Watt Key was truly amazing,” said Stephanie Robison, sixth grade teacher.
“It was interesting–he dropped by my room during class in the morning and I don’t think the kids would have been more excited if Taylor Swift had come in!” recalled Robison. “A few gasped, a few cheered, some just stared, and a few whispered ‘That’s him!’ It was super cute.”
Two sixth grade students found it interesting that Watt Key lived outside with nothing like Moon (a character from the book) did.
“He did it for a college project and we think that’s amazing and helped him to write the story,” they shared.
One School. Stuhr and Robison both believe that the unified reading of Alabama Moon gave a strong sense of community to the school.
“Students could talk about the book with anyone because EVERYONE was reading it,” Robison explained. “It was so powerful to have such a great common experience school wide.”
A sixth grade student enjoyed the discussion groups.
“I liked talking about the book with kids in other grades because you got to hear what their thoughts were about the book,” she declared.
Additionally, the HMS Digital Media Club filmed the visit, and are producing a video. Mike Arsenault, Technology Coordinator for HMS, posted a picture on Twitter.
Stuhr added, “This was an amazingly wonderful event and we can’t thank YEF enough. I’ve heard comments from staff members that they’ve never seen an event that unified our building in the way this one did.”
One Community. Yarmouth’s own Merrill Memorial Library and Royal River Books fully encompassed this endeavor. The library hosted Watt Key for an evening with the author. Royal River books offered Alabama Moon books at wholesale.
“I thought the Watt Key visit (and) program was incredible. There was so much enthusiasm and discussion around the book,” stated Amy Beard of Royal River Books. “I am grateful to have been involved. It was such a wonderful experience to see such a wide range of kids excited about the same book and about meeting the author.”
“This has been an absolutely incredible experience that has exceeded our already-high expectations,” Stuhr exclaimed. ”A HUGE thanks to YEF for making this possible!”