Today, Friday, September 19, we held our sixth annual One School-One Book event. As you know, our selection this year, Eleanor and Park, is by Rainbow Rowell. The book is a love story, but more than that it is about identifying as individuals and being resilient. Eleanor is the new kid on the block. No friends, bizarre clothes, wild hair and not a great home life. How does she survive?
For the first time in the history of our event, we had the author of our One School, One Book choice visit our school as part of the event. The entire school heard from Rainbow Rowell, the author of Eleanor and Park, this morning in our field house, and she answered student questions later in the auditorium as one of our panels. (Students submitted questions over Twitter, and were so enthusiastic that for awhile the hashtag #askrainbow was the number 4 most popular search on the social media network. Right below “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”) Every student attended two of our 12 panels, with a total 32 panelists (Newton South One School One Book 2014 bios) on topics of diverse as beauty, censorship, and ethnicity. Each student also had the chance to talk about the book in a small group with 20 or so of his or her peers.
South wants to extend what we’ve learned into action by helping families like Eleanor’s. Students are asked to bring canned, dried, and other shelf-stable items and toiletries, such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and shaving cream, to their house office next week.
This is the fifth year Newton South has hosted a One School, One Book event. Previous events have focused on Outliers (2013), Fault in our Stars (2012), Zeitoun (2011), and This I Believe (2010).
I especially love the idea that the primary reward for reading Eleanor and Park is not a grade on a test, but context for a conversation with other students and adults. This is the kind of learning that is not measured on the MCAS or an AP test; rather, this learning builds community, understanding, and shared responsibility. I am proud to be a part of it!
If you have not already, I encourage your entire family (high school aged and older) to read Eleanor and Park, so that you, too, might join in the conversation. In the past we’ve found students to be very excited and interested in carrying on the conversation, so make sure to ask what they learned.