MADISON TOWNSHIP -- Students at Madison’s Eastview Elementary are diving into a classic work of children’s literature.
Every student, teacher and staff member received a free copy of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White during a surprise assembly last week.
The assembly came after 10 days of teachers leaving hints around the school. A giant blue gift box, fake spider webs and farm-themed decorations appeared one by one in the cafeteria.
When English language arts teacher Kathie Jansen asked students if it was time to open the box, the entire student body screamed "Yes!" in unison.
Teachers opened the flaps and a set of helium balloons floated up out. One teacher pulled out a fake spider web with a stuffed toy spider hanging from it. Another pulled out a stuffed pig.
Each time another item appeared, the students squealed with excitement.
Then, at last, the teachers pulled out copies of Charlotte's Web.
"We were overjoyed with the students' reaction when they learned they were each getting a brand new book to take home," said Emily Hager, a Title I reading teacher at Eastview. "The gym erupted with cheers and excitement. It warmed every teachers' heart!"
The books were paid for with a grant from the Gorman Family Foundation as part of Eastview’s One School, One Book program. The new program was inspired by a similar program at a school in Kentucky.
For the rest of the semester, students of all ages will be encouraged to read the book at home with their families.
"Building literacy as a family can help students in many ways," Hager said. "When students are able to see their parents or guardians enjoy books or reading, it becomes an activity that the student will begin to value."
Each copy of Charlotte’s Web had a reading schedule and discussion questions tucked inside. Parents and guardians are encouraged to read the book at home with their children and use the question prompts.
“We want parents reading with them, asking them questions, having a dialogue, just really getting into literacy,” Jansen said.
Students will also have multiple chances to win prizes related to the reading. Raffle tickets will be available for taking online quizzes and sharing new vocabulary words from the book.
"As the program continues, in effort to keep enthusiasm for reading, we will have raffles for families who post or send pictures of their family engaging in reading at home," Hager said.
The schedule will have students and their families finish the book on Dec. 15. Teachers are also looking for staff to read with students who may not get family support at home.
Jansen and Hager said they hope to continue One School, One Book programs in the future with one or two different children's books each year.