Trouble Finding the “One” Book

Every year, our elementary school celebrates reading by selecting one book for all children, families and school community members to read across a few weeks during the school year.  The goal is to pull together our entire community around a piece of good literature.  We create all sorts of energy and excitement around the book,  produce skits, create interactive bulletin boards, and develop a variety of ways that children and families can respond to the text.  It’s really a lot of fun and a great way to showcase the idea that books build communities.

Here’s the challenge:  Selecting a book that will work for children in grades K-5.  And it’s that time of the year again.  Time to select our One Book.  The trouble is finding a book that is interesting and appropriate for a kindergartener and, at the same time, interesting and engaging for a fifth grader.  We have read some classics like Trumpet of the Swan and The Cricket at Times Square.  We’ve read some more contemporary literature like Gooseberry Park and The Tale of Despereaux. These books have worked well, although we’ve had a few complaints on either end of the spectrum (a little intense for K students and not too interesting for fifth graders).

We’re brainstorming some new ideas – Maybe we should consider nonfiction, poetry, a graphic novel, or even multiple titles around a theme. Maybe asking everyone to read one book flies in the face of our beliefs around choice.  Maybe she should offer a few choices and let children select what they are interested in.  So far, nothing is really tickling our fancy.

If you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them!  Please leave a comment if you think of something!


This weekend I attended a very cool (very New York City) event.  It  was an opera performed along the entire one and a half mile stretch of The High Line, a fantastic urban park created on an abandoned elevated train track in New York City.  There were over 1,000 performers along the High Line.  They were dressed in either black or white and their faces were illuminated in a variety of ways (lit visor lids, iPads lit from under their chins, or small lights held in their hands. Some were standing, others sitting, and still others up on blocks or stairs. There was even a section where the performers were singing under us as we walked along an elevated metal walkway. The title of the opera was A Biography of 7 o’clock.  It was the story of the meaning city residents bring to the idea of 7 o’clock.  There were spoken pieces about the dining room table, songs about family – hopeful and not so hopeful, pieces about the end of the day, about work, about love, about immigration.

There was one section that I found particularly moving. It was called Makeshift.  The performers were standing on blocks, each one saying a short phrase beginning with the word Make.

-Make out.

-Make war.

-Make love.

-Make your bed.

-Make a difference.

-Make up.

-Make believe.

-Make peace.

I started thinking about making.  What am I making in this life?  Am I making a difference?  Am I making enough difference?  Am I making people’s lives better? With all that is going on in this nation, I have started to feel like I don’t have much control, but maybe I need to focus on what I can make.

Here’s to making something important.

A Different Kind of Slice

This weekend was busy.  It was wonderfully busy with the girls home and family dinners and fall events like picking pumpkins, baking pumpkin muffins, and buying apple cider doughnuts at our local farm. But I didn’t get much time to write.  Monday came.  I worked.  I had dinner with friends.  Tuesday morning came.  I meant to get up early, but couldn’t quite do it.  Work was busy.  By the time I got home, the rain was coming down and I was too tired to craft my weekly slice.

But I wanted to write.  And, to be honest, I’d feel kind of guilty if I didn’t post something on SOL Tuesday.  After all, my writing friends are posting their slices.  They are busy, but somehow they found time to write.

So….I decided to take on a different type of writing.  I decided to read more posts than I normally do and respond to them in writing.  I realize how different this type of written response writing is.  I really have to first think about what the writer is saying and then consider how I am going to respond to their thinking.  Then I have to craft something that reflects on their ideas and maybe connects their thinking to my own.  I need to really consider my audience.  How will the author feel about my post?  What about the other people who read my comment?  I want to do more than say, “Great post!”  I really want the writer to know how their writing impacted my thinking.

This is another type of writing and one that I want to think more about (for myself and our students).

Well, there you have it.  I’ve sliced after all and I feel good about it!

Thank you, TWT community for holding me accountable for my weekly writing!