NCSD Brings Community Together Around A Shared Reading Experience
Published: June 8th, 2022

NCSD brings community together around a shared reading experience Elana K. Arnold’s book “A Boy Called Bat” has been the focus of a month-long shared reading experience with a scavenger hunt and crafts for the community.

NORWICH – On June 10, the Norwich City School District (NCSD) will welcome author Elana K. Arnold to engage in a writing workshop with students in grades UPK through 5th grade at Stanford J. Gibson and Perry Browne Elementary Schools. The visit will culminate a month-long shared reading experience of Arnold’s book, "A Boy Called Bat."

The District partnered with community organizations to plan an experience that involves every family,

educator, and staff member in each building, and students outside of the NCSD community,

synchronously reading Arnold’s book. The initiative kicked off in early May with an opening assembly at each building.

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Several nights a week, families engage in reading chapters of the book, and then during the school day, teachers and students participate in trivia, vocabulary development, and crafts. Community members ranging from the Mayor of Norwich to the NCSD Superintendent and Board Members have also read chapters aloud to broaden the experience for students.

“Student feedback has been awesome. They were so impressed that we were able to get the mayor and other community 'celebrities' to read chapters,” said Perry Browne Principal Michelle Osterhoudt.

A Boy Called Bat features third grader Bixby Alexander Tam, a student moving through life as a lover of animals who just happens to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“In the process of reading this beautiful story, our students, staff, and teachers fell in love with a very relatable Bat,” said Stanford Gibson Principal Jennifer Oliver.

Bat, whose mother is a veterinarian, loves taking care of animals and longs to keep their newly found skunk kit as a pet. Tying into the book, the District organized a veterinarian visit to the buildings to highlight a potential career for students.

This year, students across grades UPK through 5th have been engaged in a daily writer’s workshop — writing personal narratives, information texts, and argumentative essays. Arnold’s visit will also honor that work, as well as send students off into summer remembering they can and should live a writerly life.

Norwich community groups have played an important role in this One Community, One Book experience.

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Improve Norwich Now and The Guernsey Memorial Library are coordinating with The Place and Family Enrichment Network to sponsor a scavenger hunt and craft experience for the community on June 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

According to Jen Westervelt, I.N.N. Co-Founder and President, “It is certainly rewarding to see the effectiveness of collaboration benefit our community as we come together to promote literacy and small businesses.”

The Guernsey Memorial Library has also purchased additional copies of the sequel to A Boy Called Bat for participants to win as a prize.

“We are excited to be a part of a community-wide event that encourages reading. A book is one of the greatest gifts to give to a child," said Guernsey Memorial Library Children's Librarian Kim Hazen.

-Information provided by NCSD