Valley Stream 24 Union Free School District’s William L. Buck Elementary School continued their One Book, One School Initiative to encourage a love of reading in students last December. Each month, a selected book is shared with the entire school community: one that exemplifies a common value or theme, which is then taught in the academic conversations and activities to follow. At the close of 2021, students read: ‘The 3 Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath’ by Susan Verde to impart the value of calmness and mindfulness and later put those values into practice by doing yoga.
Previous books read by the students include: “The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi in September 2021 which explores questions about difference, identity, and cultural assimilation. After the Choi reading, students went home with paper jars and returned them to school with stories about their names and how their names might relate to their heritage and family background. In October 2021, students read “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold, where students were then asked to write and illustrate how they welcome new friends or family into their homes.
A committee comprised of Gaddy, school psychologist Kerriane Pieper, school librarian Karen Mylan, among other teaching staff, select the monthly community-wide books for the students. Copies of the book are purchased for classrooms, and staff members are able to sign up to read the book and record a video that can subsequently be viewed on the school’s website. Students and their families are encouraged to watch these videos at home to continue conversations on important values, according to school officials.
“This has been a meaningful and important initiative for our school,” said Johanne Gaddy, Principal of William L. Buck Elementary School. “Picture books are such an easy and engaging way to start these important conversations [about common values]. The discussions that have emerged in our classrooms and at home have been extremely worthwhile.”