By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.”
Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.”
The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues.
First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time.
Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary.
“I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted.
With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners.
The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or being read themselves by the older students.
The goal is to team up as a community to build a love of reading with the kids.
So the program doesn’t stop at the school doors. The entire community is asked to get involved.
Again this year, several Bowling Green businesses have gotten involved by becoming trivia question sites for the students. Each week, new trivia questions about the book are posed at the sites – giving the children a chance to win prizes for reading.
“We’re going to be reading this book all month long,” Semancik told the cheering students.
After the rowdy assembly in the gym, the students went back to their classrooms, where each was presented with their own copy of “Ralph S. Mouse.” They then gathered together with classmates to read the first chapter.
In Megan Reed’s first grade classroom, the students sat on the floor, eagerly awaiting the book. After handing out a copy to each student, Reed gave them a minute to explore the book themselves. They flipped through to see pictures, found the table of contents, and identified parts like the spine of the book.
Then Reed introduced them to Ralph S. Mouse.
“Follow me,” she said, to the rapt listeners who held their own copies in their little hands.
She started where all books start, at Chapter 1 – “A Dark and Snowy Night” in this case. After a few pages, one student asked if they had to follow along in the book.
“If you would prefer to listen, that’s just fine,” Reed said.
Another student wondered out loud what Ralph’s middle initial stood for. She will find out soon enough that it stands for “Smart.”