One School, One Book This year's Big Read is a look into the mind of a courageous gopher snake
If you have a child in Du Quoin Elementary School we know how you are spending part of your evenings ... reading.
The book, "We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes," is this year's One School, One Book selection, and everyone in DES is reading it -- children, teachers, staff, secretaries and Principal Diana Rea.
Besides showing children that reading for fun is so much fun, "This is a way for us to connect with our families," Rea said.
Each student goes home with two copies of the book, one for them and one for an adult at home, who is asked to read a chapter a night with their children. The littlest ones are read to, while older children frequently read the chapter to their parents.
The next day, during the school's 15-minute "read-aloud" time, that chapter is again read aloud and the children discuss it. Everyone reads at the same pace, so as new characters are introduced or there are cliffhangers, there is a lot to talk about.
"We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes," by Patrick Jennings, is told from the point of view of a gopher snake, captured by a human child who names her Crusher.
"He thinks I'm male," Crusher muses. "I'm not."
Crusher has no intention of being locked up in Gunnar's loathsome terrarium for much longer. She has made friends with the live mouse that Gunnar threw into her glass house, who Crusher calls "Breakfast." She plans their escape.
This is DES's third One School, One Book, and every year it's been a hit. Rea and her staff weave excitement into the big reveal, held soon after Christmas break. In past years, the fourth-graders have made the final selection, after being presented 10 to 12 finalists. This year the adult staff chose "Rattlesnakes."
The ultimate goal, Rea says, is for all 500 children and 60 adults to have a communal experience that also includes parents.
"Our goal is that our parents will get invested, and engaged in the learning process," Rea says, calling the One Book project a bridge between home and school.
"Parents are our partners. We have to work together to teach our children to critically think ... not just know things."
The first year, the book, "The Wild Robot" was so popular that a mural was pasted up in the main hallway. Every time a new character was introduced, the mural was updated.
Kids greet Rea every morning at the front entrance, eager to talk about the latest chapter of "Rattlesnakes." And each classroom has a "buddy" classroom, where they work together on book-themed projects and activities.
"Essentially, we are a school book club," Rea says. This year's story is so captivating, that "it's all we're talking about."