Crestwood Primary students get lesson in kindness and compassion

Kindergarten through second-grade students as well as staff and administrators read “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig for the fifth year of One School One Book.

“The Invisible Boy” is about a boy whose classmates never seem to notice him until a new student befriends him, after he makes the new student feel welcome.

In addition to reading the book, nearly 300 people attend a family night, where students come with parents and rotate between activities that correspond with the book such as making friendship bracelets for kids to give to a new friend. Other activities included eating a snack with chopsticks like one of the characters in the book, a song station, art projects, a parachute game in the gym and even watching a video and answering trivia questions about the book.

Monica Grebb, a teacher at Crestwood Primary, said one element of the book she enjoys is that at the beginning of the book, The Invisible Boy is drawn in a black and white outline but as he is befriended and included, color is added to him and he is in full color like the rest of the kids by the end of the book.

“The kids really picked up on that, so we encouraged them to wear bright colors, because we want to make every child feel seen, included and bright,” Grebb said.

Jennifer Gilles, a Crestwood Primary teacher, said the kickoff assemblies were held during the school day, and students were able to video chat with the author who also engaged them in activities.

Gilles chose the book this year after seeing it on Facebook, and felt the subject matter tied in well with what the school tries to teach kids at that level.

In the past, she said books were suggested by staff members, or chosen from the One School One Book program website. In the past students have read, Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Avi’s “Poppy” and Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The program is completely funded between the Parent Teacher Organization and the principal’s account, including each student getting a copy of the book to keep. Sometimes outside vendors such as the Akron Zoo have been enlisted to bring animals or other items for students to see during the activity night but this year so many teachers pitched in that the activities were all done in-house.

“It really is a labor of love,” Grebb said. “We love doing this; it’s a lot of work but because of our principal and our staff and our supportive PTO, it is so worth it.”

Some teachers even incorporate the book into the curriculum such as a writing project where students had to write about a time they felt invisible.

Gilles said the intermediate school does its own One School, One Book program but it is mostly incorporated into the school day and the book they choose is geared toward the older students.


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