One School and The One & Only Ivan

Creating a culture for reading is a component of most every library’s mission. It's also an on-going effort. There will never come a time when we will stop encouraging students to read. One of the best ways to engage students with books is by making reading social. If you are looking to increase students’ interaction with books and promote the joys of literacy to a school/community-wide audience, the One School, One Book (OSOB) model may be your answer.
OSOB is a program designed to create a reading community within the school, and allow teachers, parents, and students to have conversations about what they are reading. With OSOB books will begin to take center stage in the discussions and actions of your students. Students will come to find literature as captivating as movies, television shows, games, and music.

How Does It Work?
OSOB is usually a month long program where the whole school community follows a shared reading schedule for a specific book. The more people you can involve the better! This includes the lunch ladies, janitorial staff, office workers, principals, and the school bus drivers. In the classroom, there could be daily events and projects that reinforce the program and get everyone excited about the book. There are a number of events that the school can implement to promote the reading experience: plays, dances, family nights, trivia, contests, and much more.

My OSOB Experience
Our OSOB program included three schools in the district—8 grade levels! We used The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate for our first OSOB program. Ivan has been a popular OSOB choice because it appeals to both boys and girls and reaches students from elementary school to middle grades. Plus, The One and Only Ivan features a number of animal-welfare-related issues which leads to many interesting discussions and activities.
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Getting the community and families involved was our first priority. We communicated our goals and plans with teachers, principals, and the superintendent. My elementary school was able to purchase one copy of The One and Only Ivan for each homeroom plus copies for administrators and support staff. The intermediate and middle schools were able to give every single student a copy of the book to read and keep. The public library got involved as well by purchasing additional print and detail copies of Ivan.

In my elementary library, I first sparked students’ interest with a mystery book.
Holding the wrapped book I explained to students that soon the entire school would be reading the story inside. I then read-aloud Star of the Circus by Michael and Mary Beth Sampson to get students thinking about a circus. Students then colored circus animals that represented characters from The One and Only Ivan. Students’ imaginations ran wild with how each character might act and what would happen to them in the book. At the end of the lesson I revealed to students the cover of the mystery book. They were elated to learn they would be reading a story about a gorilla named Ivan.

The other librarians in the district and I recorded teachers, administrators, and community leaders reading aloud sections of the book. We used the Voice Record app which automatically saves and sends recordings to your Google Drive. After uploading all the audio files to a folder in Google Drive, we generated a shareable URL so teachers and students had the option of listening to the story while they read. Students were excited to know that their principals, teachers, and other adults in the town were reading Ivan, too.
Library Activities
Students created their own library book covers similar to The One and Only Ivan.
Students learned to draw their own gorillas.
The library invited reading and service dogs to visit students. Trainers discussed how to properly care for pets.
Students shared their favorite parts of the book.
We also partnered with the Family Resource Center for an animal shelter drive!

For a whole month everyone was reading! No matter how you run your OSOB program, students are sure to get excited about reading. I am glad we had our OSOB program during the first semester of the school year. Students talked about The One and Only Ivan the entire year, and it presented numerous opportunities for me to direct students to other great reads.

I am already looking forward to next year’s OSOB. Since my teachers and students now understand OSOB, I would like for them to decide our next OSOB selection. I plan to offer 3-5 titles which I will promote through book talks and fun activities. Students will then use a Google form to cast their votes!

Ultimately, finding ways to empower students in the library is what will develop that love of reading we are all looking for.

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