Reading project brings students and community together
The upstairs room of the historic Village Inn, with its brick walls and low lighting provided just the right touch of suspense and mystery for the discussion of the One Book, One Community summer reading of Seer of Shadows by Avi.
Cal-Mum Middle school reading teacher Mrs. Katrina Hatch and the literacy team assembled a committee of middle school students last spring to look at a variety of novels and select a title for the project. Students invited school staff and the community to join in reading the book and to attend two discussions over the summer.
One of the owners of the restaurant, Lisa Bleier, served refreshments and facilitated the flow of discussion about the book, which is a scary and suspenseful tale of the ghost of a young girl who makes a vengeful return visit to those who abused her. The author incorporated the history of early photography into the story by using shadows, visible and invisible, lurking nearby.
A group of 20 students, parents and community members attended the discussion, which included their thoughts about the characters in the book and whether or not they actually believed in ghosts and whether or not the book had any influence on their beliefs.
Bleier shared that the Village Inn building is very old; the original building is circa 1816. Over the years some visitors believed that a ghost lived there.
"It was kind of spooky meeting there, the room is kind of spooky with the dark light," said Michael O’Hara, a Cal-Mum seventh grader.
The students eagerly participated in the discussion and seemed to have similar opinions about the book and its characters. They like the idea of one book, one community and the opportunity to get together over the summer to talk about what they read.
Following the discussion of Seer of Shadows, Jean Guthrie, program coordinator for the Big Springs Museum, led a tour of the historic buildings in and around town. She photographed small parts of each building’s architecture to give serve as clues for the participants as they tried to name each building.
One of the stops on the walking tour was at the Town of Caledonia cemetery on Church Street. It is the town’s oldest cemetery, with gravestones dating back to 1776. Many people had never been to the town cemetery before.
This marked the second year for the One Book, One Community book project. The middle school literacy team has developed other activities to support reading among students, parents and the community. Next spring they will plan for the 2010 One Book project.
"I think it went great. It was a great community effort and such a success," Hatch said.