As a line of cars stretched down the block of Houston’s Woodland Heights neighborhood, Travis Elementary second-grader Kai Teste eagerly waved his hands from the car window at his teachers’ smiling faces.
For the past six years, the HISD school has participated in the One Book, One School event in which the entire campus community reads one book together at the same time.
Because the districtwide closure due to COVID-19 happened before the books could be delivered, the campus created a drive-thru parade so students could pick up the book while simultaneously saying hello to their teachers.
“The parade was good,” said Kai, who has participated in the reading event since kindergarten. “I got to see some of my teachers, and it made me feel happy to see them.”
Every year, a book is chosen for students to read at home with their parents or guardians. Over a period of three weeks, students are assigned several pages to read every night with their parents in preparation of the next day’s trivia questions on the selected reading.
“Our families look forward to this every year; it has become a tradition,” Travis Elementary Librarian Theresa Sims said. “We felt it was really important to make it happen because it brings a sense of togetherness and a sense of unity at a time when we all feel so separated.”
One Book, One School not only instills a love of reading in students, but also encourages family bonding and helps keep the spirit of the campus community alive during this time.
“I think it is amazing that they are continuing the program,” Kai’s mother, Vanessa Teste, said. “It gets the kids’ minds off of what is going on and helps them feel connected with their friends from school.”
According to Sims, choosing a book that students of all ages can enjoy is not an easy task. This year’s book is “Odd, Weird & Little” by Patrick Jennings, which focuses on kindness, bullying and acceptance – themes the campus vigorously has promoted over the last year.
“We’ve been talking a lot about kindness and how your actions affect someone else,” she said. “This book, I believe, addresses bullying in an appropriate way that will allow us to talk about it as community.”