Wednesday, January 14, 2015

OES Reads: The Big Reveal

It's not a secret any more! 
For our 2015 whole-school/family reading program, OES is excited to be reading books by...

Students in PreK through grade 3 are reading Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail, and students in grade 4 through 6 are reading Capture the Flag.

Yesterday the big news was revealed at a whole-school kick-off assembly.

The Announcement

The announcement about what book the whole-school will be reading always comes at the assembly. Because there are two books this year (this post touches on why) and one author, the assembly had to reveal the mystery author AND both books. 

The Book Reveal

Not only do we want to show kids the book they will be reading, but we want them to know a little about the books, too.

To introduce Capture the Flag to students, we staged the book cover heist last week, and wrote a skit for the assembly in which the culprits were caught and had to confess to their crime at the assembly. The kids loved seeing staff members in costumes and playing a part. (Some haven't quite forgiven the "guilty" teachers either--those who took the covers or those who knew it was staged!)

We introduced Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail with a skit between two characters who were learning about their neighbors, the Abbotts, heading out on the trail. They shared their hopes and worries for the family. Again, the unexpectedly costumed-staff caught the students' attention and we provided them historical background we felt they needed before starting.

Fortunately, Scholastic recently released great promotional videos for Ranger in Time (here, start at 4:30), and we were able to trace down a similar preview video for Capture the Flag (here, start at 17:19). We showed each in their respective segment, because what better way to keep the emphasis on one author than to hear the author talk about her books herself?

Author Message

We have been extremely fortunate that Kate has been so involved in helping us make this a successful project. Her willingness to work with us helps make the project come alive. Kate took time to record a video message specifically for the readers at OES that would match our release plans and the outlook for the five-week program. She talked about other books for further reading and took the students inside her writing space. This video was the most important of all. The students recognized that the author--the person behind the book--knows that we are reading her books and is excited for us to dive in.

Book Distribution

One book per student is a lot of books! Prior to the assembly, we bagged the books by classroom, and as the assembly wound down, teachers took their bag of books to where their classroom was sitting. EVERY student was personally handed a copy of Capture the Flag or Ranger in Time by their teacher. Roughly 400 students took a brand-new book home with them.

Then, we started reading. Because there are two titles, grades 4-6 moved across the hall to the cafeteria, and PreK-3 tightened up their circle in the gym. But each group heard the first chapter of their book read aloud, together.

As teachers lined their students up to return to class, many in both groups were heard lamenting that the read aloud was over, and they wanted to read on. Nothing could be a better affirmation that we've selected great titles (by a fantastic author) to share with our students and families. There are lots of things planned to help keep the reading momentum flowing over the next five weeks, too.

This assembly was the kick-off of our five-week program, and that means there will be more to share, including activity calendars, family nights, and other fun. Stay tuned.

Use this link to visit the next post in this blog series: OES Reads: Week 1.


  1. What a great way to do an intro to a One Book read. So creative.

  2. Thank you, Kathy! We have a good time dreaming up an engaging presentation, and everything else that goes into the program. Stop by again this weekend to see what else we have going on to support our Two Books, One Author project!

  3. Melissa- Thanks for providing a model of how we can celebrate reading school-wide! I'll be following this journey.

    1. Welcome, Susan! I'm getting ready to recap the first week of the program now. I hope taking the journey inspires you (and others!) in some way.