One School, One Book

This month Washington will be embarking on a special project, an all-school book club called ​One School, One Book​. Every family will receive a copy of the same book – ​The World According to Humphrey​ by Betty G. Birney – and will be asked to ​read it aloud together at home​ over the next few weeks. We are encouraging you to make time for your family to participate in this special activity.

Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares your child to be an effective reader, and it is also a fun, rewarding family activity. With the ​One School, One Book​ ​program, we aim to build a Community of Readers at Washington as students, parents, teachers, and staff engage in a shared conversation that will unite our student body.

Your child will receive a copy of ​The World According to Humphrey​ following a special school-wide Monday morning meeting next week. You will receive a reading schedule to follow at home: three chapters each week for the five week program, which will run from October 14 – November 15.

In school, your child will be invited to answer a weekly principal trivia question to encourage and reward attentive listening and engagement with the book. In class, students will explore the book through activities and discussion. We would like to encourage your family to keep up with the reading so that your child can be included. We will also be highlighting several character trait themes from the book during the program: ​empathy, respect and responsibility​. There will be different opportunities for students to explore these traits and to “catch” each other exhibiting them around campus.

One School, One Book​ is a novel program in that children of all grade levels will be listening to their grown-ups read the same book. Strange or daring as that may seem, it actually makes sound educational sense. Reading professionals recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s own reading level. We also believe that you can and should continue reading chapter books with your older children, as it promotes connection, creates space for interesting conversation and further emphasizes the value of reading. We have selected a title that can be understood and enjoyed by younger students, but will still captivate and stimulate older children.

We know that you will enjoy this special reading time with your families. We look forward to sharing this experience with you as we read about Humphrey the hamster and the lessons he teaches the children – and adults – of Longfellow School. “When a whole school reads a book, there’s a lot to talk about.” With your help, we can build a Community of Readers at Washington!

– Mrs. Giguiere and The Wildcat One School, One Book Committee

Follow us on Instagram @wildcats_1school1book

A special thank you to our program sponsors: Hippo Medical Education, The Riordan Family and The Paskin Family. And our prize sponsors: The CocaCola Company, Chaucer’s Bookstore and Kyle’s Kitchen.
And an extra special thank you to Montecito Pet Shop for donating our very own Humphrey to love and learn from!

The World According to Humphrey

Introduction to
The World According to Humphrey
by Betty G. Birney

By popular demand! This simple, accessible, wonderful, endearing story of the humble Hamster – Humphrey. With his common sense and aggressive nose for right and wrong. Humphrey turns the world of those he meets upside down – for the better! Fresh from the Pet-O-Rama, initially a reluctant member of Room 26 at Longfellow School, already missing his first hostess (the notorious Ms. Mac), wary and mistrustful of the seemingly dour Mrs. Brisbane – Humphrey slowly endears himself to the students in Room 26 – and to the adults lucky enough to k now him (including the principal and the vital school custodian).

What Humphrey really does is teach lessons. The non-didactic kind. Leading by example. It’s Betty G. Birney’s genius to let Humphrey notice and supply

the life lessons that give both students and adults confidence –and enables them to confront their secrets and meet their respective challenges. And she does all this in a brisk, quick book enlivened by quick, brisk prose and easily accessible disguised homilies. (“You can learn a lot about yourself when you get to know another species.”)

Like Humphrey, when you meet students like Raise-Your-Hand-Heidi, Repeat-That- Please-Richie, and Speak-Up-Sayeh, you will embrace their interests and needs and admire Humphrey’s alert and sensible solutions. Similarly your students and families will find themselves racing into The World According to Humphrey without realizing how quickly they’ll be charmed and hooked. (And want more.)

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