By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The second graders at Crim Elementary inched in as close as possible as their teacher sat down in the rocking chair with a new book. They leaned in, some bouncing with excitement, as Stacey Higgins cracked open the magic of the new book, “Kenny and the Dragon.”
This is the moment that teachers love – when children are visibly enthused about reading. And this is the moment that is recreated each year with the 1BookBG program that unifies all the elementaries and the community in reading one storybook.
“It’s the community experience – to see our schools and community work on this together is wonderful,” Higgins said.
Every elementary student family is given a copy of the book – this year being “Kenny and the Dragon” by Tony DiTerrlizi. For the next month, students will be reading it at school and with their families at home. And businesses throughout the community will offer trivia questions on the book.
“I love reading,” said second grader Liam Walsh. “I like that reading helps me get smarter. All I want to get is smarter.”
Walsh had big plans Monday to go home and read the first four chapters.
“I’ll read literally all day,” he said.
His classmates Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus were paging through their new books, professing their love for reading.
“I read every book every day,” Kenley said of her book collection at home. “I keep telling my mom I need more books.”
Naus was particularly excited because DiTerrliz is one of his favorite authors.
“I have two bookshelves, actually three,” Naus said. “I need more bookshelves.”
Each year, the 1BookBG books are purchased with donations from PTOs, community organizations and local businesses.
This year the district is holding a “family night” on Thursday at the middle school, from 6 to 8 p.m., for activities involving the 1BookBG. The goal is to bring the families of the community together to celebrate literacy and build connections between the schools.
Out in the community, 25 businesses have volunteered to be trivia sites for 1BookBG this year. Students can ask for trivia questions about “Kenny and the Dragon,” and if they answer correctly they get a ticket that can be placed in a drawing back at their schools. Winners get to have lunch with their favorite teachers or other local “celebrities.”
And the Wood County District Public Library will be hosting a visit by the book’s author, Tony DiTerrlizi.
“For the students to see businesses celebrating reading is a big deal,” Higgins said.
On Monday, before the students received their own copies of “Kenny and the Dragon,” they were prepared for their reading adventure. Higgins showed the class a video by Superintendent Francis Scruci that made the book announcement since the day it was planned for was snowed out.
“The 1BookBG show must go on,” Scruci said in a dramatic tone for the students.
A series of clues were presented to the kids about the mystery book. The clues mentioned “smore fun,” creme brulee, a dragon slayer and “hopping” into a good book. The students were stumped.
Then it was unveiled – it would be “Kenny and the Dragon,” a book about an intelligent rabbit, brave knight and a friendly dragon.
“This is an example of our community working together for the good of our schools,” Scruci said.
“This is the most important skill” students will learn at school, he told the children. “Reading is the skill that unlocks all the doors to your future.”
Title I Reading Teacher Jennifer Ostrowski said the 1BookBG experience provides a common discussion topic for students each year.
“And they get to share with their families,” who are encouraged to join in the experience, Ostrowski said.
“A lot of people are excited to join,” she said. “We keep finding new ways to involve the community.”
It is difficult finding a book that will work for pre-kindergarten through fifth graders. In the past, the books selected told the story of Humphrey the hamster, a boy who turned all he touched to chocolate, and a motorcycle-riding mouse.
A student survey pushed the selection this year toward the fantasy story of “Kenny and the Dragon.”
The overall goal of the program is to share with love of literacy throughout the community.
“We want to encourage families to read and enjoy the book together. It’s not a school program – but a family and community program, thanks to the involvement of our local business trivia-site partners,” Higgins stated. “Teachers and schools, with our classroom activities surrounding the book, are the springboard to whole family involvement.”
Following is a list of the businesses partnering as trivia sites: Aardvark, Ben’s, BGSU Curriculum Resource Center, Biggby, The Cookie Jar, Cameron’s Comic Store, Coyote Beads, Dairy Queen, Pagliai’s, Eden Fashion Boutique, Elite Sportswear, Eric’s Ice Cream, Family Video, Game Stop, Grounds For Thought, Home Depot, Pisanellos, Pizza Pub 516, Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Retro, Speck Sales, Sundae Station, Trotters, Waddington Jewelers, Wood County Library, and Woodland Mall Cinema.