A special thanks to SLMC Kristi Allred for this awesome blog post! Kristi has done similar programs before with other titles and it's totally replicable and affordable. Kudos to her supportive administration and staff to help her pull this event off!
In January we kicked off our first (and hopefully annual) Reading Knightly Family Reading Program. Families were encouraged to sign up to read Fish in a Tree together and participate in various activities throughout the year. In the spring of last year I asked for staff volunteers to help me plan this event. I got very lucky and had representation from all three grade levels and the EC department. Our goal is for families to devote time to read together, while building those connections between home and school that often weaken during the middle school years.
We selected Fish in a Tree for several reasons. It is a truly excellent book and we thought it opened the door for lots of meaningful discussions for families. We have a large EC population here, and we thought this book could help some students read about a character with struggles like their own, and it would help other students gain empathy towards their peers. Wonder is our #1 most popular book, and Fish in a Tree shares some similar themes. So it seemed like a good match for this year!
We promoted the program through ELA teachers using flyers and this video. I wrote a Donors Choose Grant and received 40 free copies of Fish in a Tree. 28 families enrolled; primarily 6th and 7th grade. They paid $5.00 per person for dinner (East Coast Wings).
We had 51 students/family members attend the kick-off event. Families ate dinner in the cafeteria and then visited the media center to receive their books/materials and visit stations. Included in their family materials was a timeline of future events, conversation starters, an invitation to participate in a family volunteer project, and a list of possible books to read next. I was fortunate that five Reading Knightly committee staff members, Elaine Brittain (media assistant), Mrs. Hyatt & Mrs. Donithan (administrators), Wendy Beck from the public library, and Sedley attended and helped out throughout the evening.
The stations included: Learning About Dyslexia, Life in a Military Family (both important to the plot of Fish in a Tree), North Davidson Public Library Resources, Literacy Tips, About the Author, and Connecting with Flipgrid. I hope to use Flipgrid as a way to foster digital conversation both about Fish in a Tree and reading in general.
Our upcoming events include a Lunch Bunch book discussion, Make-and-Take activity (during the day), and an April evening Dessert Celebration where we will recognize student participants and showcase the Family Volunteer Projects.
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