Award winning children’s author Emilie Buchwald once said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” This sentiment is echoed within Tara Heights Elementary School.
To collaborate with parents and families, Tara Heights launched its third year in the One School One Book program, giving children a free book to read with their families and fellow students.
“We want to create a community of readers,” said Jill Kueny, Tara Heights’ literacy facilitator.
The program commenced on Jan. 13 with a launching assembly. At this time, students were given a packet, which included the book “Masterpiece” by Elise Broach, a story of a boy who befriends a beetle as they unfold a mystery tied together in an underlying art theme.
Kueny said the book was selected as something older students and parents would enjoy reading while being accessible to younger children who are being read to by someone else.
Families are also given comprehension coupons, she said, which are questions regarding the reading sections. Students can turn in the coupons by the first day of the school week for the chance to win a drawing.
Kueny said the program’s initial week shows a lot of promise for family and student participation.
“The next day, we had four families already turn in their coupons,” she said.
By Friday, she said more than 20 families had turned in their coupons.
“We love it; we look forward to reading together,” said Kelly Ostdiek, president of the Tara Heights Parent Teacher Organization and parent volunteer at the school.
With four children who range from preschool to sixth grade, she said she appreciates the book selection.
“They are easy for (my youngest) to follow along, but my older daughter still enjoys it,” she said.
Ostdiek said her family already makes reading together a priority, but said they have participated in the One School One Book program each year it has taken place.
“It makes us accountable to reading. As a parent, I think it’s important,” she said.
She said she is thankful for Tara Heights and the Papillion-La Vista School District not only for having such programs but also for going above and beyond just providing books by making children excited to read.
For example, last year she said the school had a “lemonade war” and gave students and family is slushies during an assembly.
“They always do activities the whole school — kids and families — get excited about,” she said.
Kueny said this year’s culmination celebration will have an art theme, though specific details are not currently available.
“We’re going to do something for the family with an art project,” she said, noting the book’s art theme.
She said the school is already looking forward to a high amount of participation, even encouraging students to read at the Kids Club after-school program and allowing sixth-graders to read to kindergarten students during the day.
For more information, including a weekly video update on the program, Kueny said to see the Tara Heights Facebook page.