Book program expands in Oswego schools

The Oswego City School District is building personal libraries for students one book at a time.
That fete is being accomplished through the district’s participation in the Read to Them program, which saw much success in its first round throughout each of the elementary buildings. Inspiring children and families to read together was the goal of the program’s One District, One Book initiative.
The month-long event was so successful that the district will offer the program twice during the 2018-2019 school year. OCSD’s goal is to increase student access and available resources to literature in order to continue to build foundational reading skills and promote family engagement.
The district’s introduction to One District, One Book began in the 2017-2018 school year when all of the elementary students read “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty Birney. Several teachers had incorporated Humphrey and his story into academic lessons and each building unit collectively held special events and contests to promote further engagement.
Students received a reading schedule, but a plethora of the youngsters breezed through the book within the first few days, as they couldn’t get enough of the hamster’s adventures. The overarching goal was to get everyone, including students, their parents, guardians or other positive role models, teachers and building communities all on the same page. Students could read to adults and adults were encouraged to read with their child.
At Minetto Elementary, the People as Reading Partners program hosted a daily trivia contest, a writing contest and classroom door decorating contest. All Minetto students were tasked with logging their reading time, as they committed to reading at least five days each week. Several classes had 100 percent participation and earned an ice cream sundae party.
Minetto Principal Jennifer Sullivan said she was elated to see the entire school come together, all in the name of reading. She and the rest of the Minetto staff joined the school-wide dance party during the building’s One District, One Book culmination activities. Humphrey himself even made a guest appearance and high-fived students as he helped hand out Popsicle treats.
The first round of the Read to Them program was funded through a Richard S. Shineman Foundation collaborative grant with the Mexico and Fulton school districts, as well as the Literacy Coalition of Oswego County. The second round, however, is being funded through the state’s anti-poverty LIFT grant for the City of Oswego. Through that, OCSD will offer a book to every elementary student in both the fall and spring of the 2018-2019 school year. OCSD administrators will meet next month to select the fall book, which most likely will involve a selection in the Humphrey series. Building that continuity of community is important in bringing everyone together, Curcio said.
Recognizing the importance of preventing the summer slide of losing that literacy focus, Riley Elementary Principal Linda Doty worked with the Read to Them program to purchase copies of “The Lemonade War” by Jacqueline Davies for students in grades two through five. Doty said a portion of the building’s Title 1 funding has covered the cost of the summer program, specific to Riley. In a letter addressed to parents and guardians, school staff members stressed that reading together is valuable because the activity helps the child become a more effective reader. Students will also be tasked with answering short questions about each chapter, and may receive an award upon their return to school in the fall.

Minetto Elementary students, from left: Lana Hsu, Ethan King,
Ella O’Connor and Molly Wells, proudly display their
certificates for winning  the school writing contest, as part of
the recent Read to Them program.