Humphrey the hamster is coming to Great Bend to promote connectivity and literacy to children and their families. Humphrey is a amazing little guy who is very smart, and spends his day at a school helping children understand the world around them, and on weekends he gets to go home with a student and see how these humans live when they are not in school. Humphrey is the main character in the book “The World According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney. The book will be read in the Literacy program called One District, One Book this fall for grades K-6. The program is being hosted by the Unified School District 428. One Book One District is the flagship program that was created by a nonprofit organization called Read To Them in Richmond, Va. Read To Them was created to promote literacy and a way for families to have a way to connect to one another. “We hope the program will focus on literacy and making reading fun, and open up possibilities for parents to continue reading to their children,” Public Information Director for USD 428, Jennifer Schartz said. According to the Read To Them website, One District One Book, is a literacy and community building program. It is a tool to reach families through the schools — based on a simple premise and simple operating procedures. Every participating elementary school family receives a copy of the same high quality children’s novel. Under gentle guidance every family reads the book over the course of a designated month. Interest in the book is created and augmented at school through demanding daily trivia questions. The result is a school wide/district wide conversation about a book. That conversation leaves the classroom to enter the cafeteria, the playground, and the parking lot, and it comes to involve every layer of the school community. USD 428 will be the first district in Kansas to do multiple books. This fall the district will read “The World According Humprey” and in the spring, the district will choose another book from the program. The program has many different books that the districts can choose from. The program has many opportunities for families and children to get involved with one another and their community. The program is design to be a district-wide book club in USD 428, and everyone is encouraged to participate — students, families, teachers, and staff. People involved in the program will be able to participate in school activities, and community activities as well. These activities include joining in the fun at local restaurants, attending a special evening at the library, Longs Pumpkin Patch, and giving to Furry Friends Fun Drive at the local humane society. “The program will show children and their families excitement, opportunity in a book and open up a door for all the books in the world” Children’s Librarian, Dayna Ball said. “It will also give families a way to connect.” Goals The main goal of the program is to create a culture of literacy in every home. According to the Read To Them website, children, especially those from less literate homes, need to be exposed to rich vocabulary and complex, grammatically correct sentences. Listening to chapter books read aloud on a regular basis is an effective way to advance this literacy growth. It also creates excitement and discussion about books and promotes the habit of reading. The more children are read to, the better they get at reading. USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed has his own goals in mind for the program. They include: • Increase the love of reading among students. • Boost students reading and literacy levels. • Create a deeper connection between students and parents over reading. • Drive a feeling in the community that reading and literacy are vital for youth, adults, and families. • Create a greater community connection through a shared activity. “Any time we can celebrate reading and literacy and give parents a time to connect with their children, while also involving the community, its a unique opportunity,” Reed said. The community Another important part of the program, One District One book is getting the community involved. The community is a very important part of the program. By having the community involved this give students the opportunity to be involved with their community and to be able to enjoy other activities that the program has to offer. Ways the community can get involved with the program is by offering a discount or an incentive to the children in the program at local restaurants. The program will offer Humprey buttons, Humprey activity sheets, crayon cups and crayons to the local restaurants that are involved with the program. Other local businesses can also get involved by putting up a Humprey art Wall, wearing Humprey buttons, offering store discounts or incentives, or by donating to help fund the project and community activities. The USD 428 would like to get as many businesses involved as they can, To make this program reach as many children as it can, and to give these children as many opportunities while participating in the program. The deadline for restaurants and other local business to get involved is 5 p.m. on Aug. 14. Contact Dayna Ball at 620-792-2409 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program, visit www.readtothem.org/our-programs/one-district-one-book/.