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Students participate in first ever ‘One Community, One Book’

Date: 7/5/2011

July 4, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW — Students enrolled at the town’s Blueberry Hill, Center and Wolf Swamp Road schools will all be going to the dogs this summer ... in a good way.

These children, enrolled in classes ranging from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade next fall, will be taking part in the town’s first-ever “One Community, One Book” summer reading project. Their assignment – read and share thoughts about “Hotel for Dogs” by Lois Duncan with their family and friends during the school break.

“We did it last summer, just as a school. We read ‘The Lemonade War’ and it was a great success,” Blueberry Hill School Principal Marie Pratt said, adding that the project not only got students talking about the book in the fall, but also spawned “a ton” of neighborhood lemonade stands last summer. “We brought [the one book idea] to the district’s Literacy Committee this year ... to do it as a whole elementary community.”

Pratt said Blueberry Hill School Librarian Moria Joyce initially suggested last summer’s school-wide read — one that would include students, teachers, administrative staff and even school custodians. She brought the idea to the school’s English Language Arts Committee, which thought the concept was great and designed last summer’s project.

“It’s a unifying activity. The kids knew they could talk to anyone about the book,” Pratt said of the school-wide read that not only kept student’s skills up during the summer break but also incorporated her school’s goal of creating a sense of community among students, staff and parents.

That’s a goal elementary school teachers and administrators hope to re-create with the “Hotel for Dogs” project, she added.

The Parent-Teacher Organizations in each of the three schools pooled resources and bought 1,150 copies of “Hotel for Dogs” — enough so that each family with students in the schools and all support staff could receive a copy. The books, along with suggestions for some fun activities to do involving the book — students are asked to complete three during the summer — were sent home in a packet at the close of the school year.

Pratt said the younger students, those in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and some of the early grades, will probably need to have the book read aloud to them. She’s hoping families with older children will also read the book together, perhaps even aloud, and make time to discuss it at home.

“We want it to be fun. We don’t want it to feel like school,” Pratt said. “What we want is for this to be a fun family activity that will carry over into the first part of fall when school starts.”

A committee of teachers from the three schools has already planned activities for the first few weeks of school that will center on “Hotel for Dogs,” she added.

Students registering now — or who have recently registered for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or any elementary grade at Blueberry Hill, Center or Wolf Swamp Road schools — can join the “One “Community, One Book” project by picking up a prepared book packet at the time they register, or in the office of any of the three schools between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer.

Downloadable copies of the “One Community, One Book” activities, along with a detailed explanation of the project, are available online at

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