École Brentwood’s Vision Statement, “Family-centered school, built on a foundation of excellence, creating boundless learning opportunities,” is reinforced through family-centered literacy activities. Throughout the year, the school creates intentional opportunities to invite families and community into the school, through literature.
One School One Book
One example of such activities is participating in the One School One Book program. This year’s book was Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. According to Tami Lemoine, school librarian, “[t]he book was chosen because the Wishtree was a gentle, humorous book with a powerful message of inclusion, acceptance and friendship.” Each family received the same book to read together. As well, they were able to participate in daily trivia questions and family-centered literacy activities, to be shared back at school the following day. One of the activities included creating a school Wishtree where students placed their own wishes on the tree located in the entrance of the school. “When an entire school reads the same book, the buzz and excitement around the book augment these benefits” (readtothem.org). Students enthusiastically came to school, eager to share the experience they had in their home with their classmates and teachers.
“One of my students actually said, ‘it was so awesome Mrs. White, my dad’s phone rang and he didn’t even answer it’. I thought that was really telling [about] how special the book was and how family support helps create a ‘sacred time’ around books and reading.” — Amy White, École Brentwood
World Read Aloud Day
To further the family-centered experience, École Brentwood also participated in World Read Aloud Day. The school kicked off the day with an assembly and invited a variety of community visitors into the school for a shared reading experience. Families, guardians, seniors and students from Crowther Memorial Junior High School, all ventured into the school to read with the students. Volunteer readers dispersed throughout the school to cuddle up with a book and read with an École Brentwood student or group of students. As Read to Them explains, “[r]eading a book together brings the added joy of building and expanding a sense of community among students, parents, teachers, and staff – and beyond”(readtothem.org). Everyone involved in the day recognized the special atmosphere the World Read Aloud Day created.
“World Read Aloud Day was definitely one of my favourite days at École Brentwood! Our classrooms, our library, and all of our hallways were filled with families, friends, and community members. It was wonderful seeing so much pride students took in being able to share their favourite books with their very special guests!” — Debbie Fule, École Brentwood teacher.
Connections Make a Difference
Reading has fostered many connections for these students: between one another, between themselves and teacher, with their families, and with the community. As well, this approach has deepened the love of reading for many students. When schools open their doors to community involvement, learning for everyone is enriched. For more information on Connecting and Contributing and the benefits of reading, see the following resources: