The only thing better than reading a good book is reading it with your friends. And the only thing better than that is reading it with your mom and dad, and teachers and principal and everybody else at your school. That's what's happening right now at Whitaker Elementary.
As part of the national One School, One Book program, every Whitaker student and staff member -- and district administrators and Board of Education members, too -- have received copies of Katherine Applegate's poignant book, The One and Only Ivan. From Feb. 21 to March 20, students will read the book with their families at home and participate in activities at school, becoming part of a powerful Community of Readers.
"The benefits of reading aloud are remarkable. Studies have shown that reading to children helps them to listen better and longer, to build bigger vocabularies, to understand concepts better, to feel positive about both books and learning -– and much more," according to Read to Them, the nonprofit organization that started One School, One Book.
But can a single book appeal to moms, dads, superintendents, third graders and sixth graders? It can when it involves Ivan, a silverback gorilla who never tires of painting pictures of bananas, sees himself as an artist, and whose best friends are Stella and elephant and Bob the dog. What Ivan learns as he watches the people who are watching him at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall is a study in themes as timeless and universal as loneliness, loyalty, courage and finally, hope.