Okay, that may be hyperbole, but one dragon did drop by the school looking for some scrumptious food. It happened on Monday, May 1, in an assembly at Fountain City Elementary where school board member Betsy Henderson, Knox Ed Foundation CEO Mike Taylor, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, KCS Superintendent Jon Rysewyk and Commission chair Courtney Durrett were on hand for the big reveal for One Book Read City. For the first two weeks in May, every Knox County elementary student will read Zoey and Sassafrass: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro. The story centers on a girl who uses the scientific method to find proper nutrition for a dragon, which may or may not be marshmallows.
The best part is that every student will keep the book as a gift, thanks to Knox Education Foundation with support from Comcast, AMS, The Boyd Foundation, Friends of the Library, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Trane and many other organizations.
Drawing on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) themes of the book, East Tennessee PBS has created a series of videos focusing on people employed in STEM jobs locally. The videos will be shown on their channel and in classrooms.
It’s not just a school project. A number of businesses and organizations are participating in One Book Read City by serving as sites for the county-wide scavenger hunt developed by the Knox County Public Library. Students who collect three stamps from these places will be entered to win a seat at the end-of-year pizza party at Zoo Knoxville.
The shared experience of reading a book together creates a sense of community with other students and increases family engagement. Students who complete the book are invited to drop by the Read City USA tent at the Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading on Saturday, May 20, in World’s Fair Park to claim an additional prize.
“This is a great program,” said Jacobs. “It’s nice to hear about kids from different schools and neighborhoods discovering things they have in common. In this case, it’s reading the same book.”
Henderson agreed saying, “One Book Read City has been a powerful program. We’re just in the second year and you can already see its benefits. It’s a great way to close out the school year.”
Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library