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Colin Brown and Abigail Corbly spend their first few minutes with
Colin Brown and Abigail Corbly spend their first few minutes with "Masterpiece" by Elise Broach.

MT. COMFORT — For 11-year-old Colin Brown, reading through another chapter book is a piece of cake.

But for the younger students at Mt. Comfort Elementary School, it can be more challenging. And that was one of the ideas behind the school’s newest program to build a community of readers at the school. It’s called “One School, One Book.”

“It’s to get them excited about reading,” MCES Principal Heather Whitaker said. “It can really get their families involved. We’ve found that with the families that read at home together, the kids do so much better.”

The program – in which students in all grades read the same book – is a way to get parents involved. Students in kindergarten and the early grades will need help from parents to read the chapter book, yet the older students will still find the book interesting.

The program was spearheaded by Whitaker and fifth-grade teacher Lauren Bailey. Bailey attended an education conference in November. There, she learned about the program that had been a success in Ohio. She wanted to bring that excitement back to MCES.

“We looked at about five or six different possibilities, and we were really looking for one that students might not be familiar with,” Bailey said. “We wanted a fresh story and everyone reading it together.”

The book the school is reading is “Masterpiece” by Elise Broach.

Copies of the book were given to each student, teacher, staff member, bus driver and custodian. Everyone in the school will be reading the book throughout February.

“This way, everyone from adults that work in the school to the lunch ladies to the secretaries can talk to the kids about it. Everyone is going to be familiar with the same story and what’s going on,” Bailey said. “Hopefully it will create a lot of good commotion.”

“Masterpiece,” published in 2008, tells the story of a talented beetle, Marvin, who lives under a kitchen sink in a New York City apartment owned by the Pompaday family. The beetle befriends the family’s 11-year-old son, James, and eventually creates for him an elaborate drawing. When James receives the credit for the masterpiece, it sets off a chain of events that sends the two on a journey that includes a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“It’s mostly fiction, but it has some non-fiction and informational text in about art and things like that,” Whitaker said.

The project kicked off Monday and will continue until Feb. 28. The school’s morning news program is getting in on the action with book-related trivia that will keep the students involved, and guest readers will read to the kids from time to time.

Acquiring enough copies of the book was as much of a group effort as reading it will be. Administrators used fundraising money and funds accumulated through the Box Tops for Education program to buy more than 600 books for students and staff.

Whitaker and Bailey chose “Masterpiece” for a couple of reasons.

“It seemed like a good one that would interest everyone from kindergarten to fifth grade,” Bailey said.

As the program gets under way, administrators and teachers hope this will be the first in a series of “One School, One Book”

initiatives at MCES.

“As we go on in later years, hopefully we can make it bigger,” Whitaker said. “Hopefully, we’ll be looking at sponsors to fund it in the years to come.”

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