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One school, one book uses reading to bring Dayton Elementary school community together

group of people in the gym(02/16/2023) With the goal of building a community of readers, Dayton Elementary School has organized a One School, One Book program, which is a month-long, school-wide shared reading event.

Thanks to a grant from the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) and funding from the Dayton Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, the school has provided a book titled Crenshaw, to every family and staff member to read together during February, which is “I Love to Read” month. Kindergarten teacher Ann Katorosz and fourth grade teacher Christine Saksa led a group of teachers and staff to make the program happen.

“We thought it would be exciting for all our students and families to come around one book,” Katorosz said. “Each classroom teacher, para, and custodian got a copy of the book so we could all be reading and talking together. We are very appreciative of the AHEF. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

On Feb. 9, Dayton Elementary held a read and eat celebration before school, inviting families to bring a blanket and read while having breakfast with their children. The Kindness Club student leaders served as volunteers and Compassion Coffee of Anoka sold coffee and hot chocolate. Compassion Coffee has the vision to empower people affected by homelessness, which relates to a major concept in Crenshaw. All proceeds went to Compassion Coffee. View photos of the read and eat event

“The ultimate goal is that we wanted a whole school book club,” Saksa said. “We had staff read chapters, so if families were too busy to read every night, the students could listen and follow along.”

The school plans to send out a survey at the end of the month to get feedback from families with the hopes of continuing this event in the future.

About the book

Jackson, the main character, and his family are going through difficult times. Once homeless, Jackson’s imaginary friend, Crenshaw, helped him cope with his family's struggles. "Imaginary friends are like books. We’re created, we're enjoyed, we're dog-eared and creased, and then we're tucked away until we're needed again." Surprised by Crenshaw’s reappearance in his life, Jackson questions reality versus imagination, but is secretly glad to have Crenshaw by his side once again.