by Cori Hilsgen
Kennedy Community School is joining many other schools in the St. Cloud School District to participate in an all-school book club called “One District One Book.”
Fourth-grade teacher and instructional leader Kelli Ritter said every family received a copy of the book “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney.
Ritter and a committee of Kennedy teachers have been working on the project.
The book is a story about a hamster named Humphrey, who gives readers his views of school, families and other things. The book tells of his classroom adventures and his experiences as he sleeps over at students’ houses on weekend visits.
Families were asked to read it at home over the month of February which is “I Love to Read Month.”
“We are inviting everyone to be involved in the reading of this book,” Ritter said.
She said reading out loud at home is valuable because it better prepares children to be effective readers and is a fun family activity.
“With the program, we aim to build a community of readers at our school,” Ritter said.
She said everyone, including students, parents, teachers and administrative staff will be participating and will reap the benefits.
The program began with guest readers in each classroom reading the first chapter. Those guest readers included current and former Kennedy teachers, custodians, paraprofessionals, current and former students, administration, school board members, firefighters, police officers and more.
The books were then sent home with students. Families received a bookmark with a suggested reading schedule to follow listed on it. About 15 minutes or a chapter of reading each night is recommended.
Students can also complete weekly trivia questions. That is being done to encourage and reward attentive and active listening.
The program is unique because children at all grade levels will be listening to the same book.
“Strange or daring as that may seem, it actually makes sound educational sense,” Ritter said. “Reading professionals recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s own reading level.”
She said “The World According to Humphrey” can be followed, understood and enjoyed by younger students but will still captivate and stimulate older children.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.