One School, One Book

Aug 8, 2010 by

I first read about this program in an issue of Reading Today, an IRA publication.  As soon as I read this article, I knew I wanted to try this idea.  This is a program in which one book is selected and the entire school community—parents, volunteers, and teachers—reads that book at home over the course of an entire month. Each morning the principal reads a trivia question designed to pique and promote interest in the book, to encourage attentive listening at home, and to serve as a daily reminder of the program. For more information about this exciting program visit Read to Them.  Here you can find a more detailed description, additional resources, and a couple of video clips.

This past year our school used this program during the month of March for National Reading Month.  We are a K-5 building so we wanted to select a book that would interest a wide age range.  We selected The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney and it was a huge hit!  Below are some of the ideas and activities we used to enhance the reading experience.  You may download any of the reproducibles for use in your school or adapt the ideas for other books.  If you use any books from the Humphrey series, be sure to check out Betty Birney’s website.  She is a very approachable author.  We contacted her to let her know about the program, and she agreed to write a letter to our school and even answer questions the children had about Humphrey or her books.

Parent Letter

Staff Letter

Family Activities

Reading Calendar

Trivia Questions

Template for Humphrey Contest

World According to Humphrey Teacher’s Guide 
(from the author’s website)

For the Humphrey Contest we invited students  to write a story and draw a picture about a new adventure that Humphrey might have at their school.  We selected one winner from each classroom and awarded the winning contestants a stuffed hamster which we had purchased at It was neat to see the students trying to emulate the author’s writing style by adding some of Humphrey’s mannerisms and sayings.  Below is a sample of one of the winners:

Humphrey Stories Megan1Humphrey Stories Megan2

click to enlarge

Humphrey Stories Megan3Humphrey Stories Megan4

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  1. Laura

    Thank you so much, Annemarie! This looks awesome and so much fun! How do you handle the students answering the trivia questions? On their own, as a class,just for discussion or a prize? I remember you mentioning at the workshop I attended about taking pictures of the stuffed Humphrey in different locations. Can you expand a little on that? I can’t wait to do this at my school!

  2. Annemarie

    We allowed each teacher to handle the trivia questions however they chose–didn’t seem appropriate to do the same thing with kindergartners and 5th graders. Some teachers did it orally. Others made it a contest with prizes. One suggestion: have students write the answer on a slip of paper and put it into a basket. Then draw out one slip. If the drawn slip has the correct answer, award that student a prize. As far as placing Humphrey around the building–I have a video clip of this–I’m just waiting to get permission from the person in the video to post it and then I will add this.

  3. Laura

    I just wanted to let you know that we kicked off our OSOB activity with Humphrey yesterday! Today was awesome! Lots of students talked with me and their other teachers and classmates about last night’s reading. Some children were just so excited that they received a book that they can keep! It’s wonderful!

  4. Annemarie

    I’m so glad your students are excited about it! Keep me posted as the month goes on. I just talked to our principal this afternoon to begin our plans for this year’s OSOB. I’m looking for book titles that will appeal to K-5. If you have any suggestions, let me know. We won’t do it until March for Reading Month, but that will be here before we know it!

  5. Stacy Walker

    Wow! It is now 4/2011 and I am just finding this. I was the one the article was featured about. I am so glad you tried the Humphrey books. Our school loved them. Keep in touch! There are a number of us, including me, that are going to present at the IRA conference in May at Orlando, FL. If you are there, come and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you.

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