Book project building community

St. Paul’s School launched its 10th annual ‘One School, One Book Family Reading Program Monday.

The program has students receiving a single book, this year Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, which they are encouraged to read from daily with their parents over the month of January.

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“Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares your child to be an effective reader,” detailed material circulated at the launch Monday. “But it is also a fun, worthwhile family activity. With the One School, One Book program, we aim to build a community of readers at our school. Everyone – students, parents, and teachers – will be participating, and we can all reap the many benefits.”

This year the program has expanded to encompass students at Dr. Brass, St. Alphonsus, St. Michael’s and Yorkdale Central School. In total 660 books are being distributed.

The One School, One Book program is one where children at all grade levels will be listening to the same book read by parents.

“Strange or daring as that may seem, it actually makes sound educational sense,” noted the circulated material. “Reading professionals recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s own reading level. And we also believe that you can and should continue reading chapter books with your older children, even when they are able to read by themselves. We have selected a title that can be followed, understood and enjoyed by younger students, but that will still captivate and stimulate older children.”

The expanded program now looks to create One Community, One Book, with the community message of Wishtree, a big part of that process.

In Wishtree, a story of community and acceptance is told, albeit with challenges along the way.

“Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this “wishtree” watches over the neighborhood,” details the books website at

“You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

“Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.”

This year’s program has also taken on other partners within the community.

“We are also excited to have SIGN and other community partners on board to support our One Community, One Book adventure,” detailed the material. “We are hoping the ideas in Wishtree will spark conversations across our community and help build a world where we all have opportunities to listen and learn from each other.”

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