Mary Martin Elementary students and staff will spend the next few months getting to know a hamster named Humphrey.
On Thursday morning, school administrators rolled out their plans for a school-wide book club for the book “The World According to Humphrey” during a student rally. Because of a $2,500 community literacy grant from the Hudson Oaks Walmart, all 565 students get their own copy of the book.
Humphrey, the book’s main character, is a hamster that lives in a school, and the book tells a story through his perspective.
Fifth-grader Haddie Meadows said she is excited to read the book.
“The hamster goes around and talks and experiences the life of humans,” Meadows said. “We get to kind of see how the animals think.”
Children will be encouraged to read the book at school in their independent reading time as well as at home. Reading the book will be incentivized with prizes, including a chance to play in a giant hamster wheel, and activities, Library Media Specialist Brenda Coffman told kids during the rally. To celebrate the end of the book club on April 24, there will be a family picnic on campus.
“We’ve asked teachers just to commit a little bit of time each day just to talking about the book,” Principal Amy Crippen said. “And then we have classrooms that are called ‘buddy classrooms,’ and so you may have an upper-grade level and a lower-grade level that are buddy classrooms, so we’re encouraging them when you come together, let’s talk about “The World According to Humphrey.” That’s a common topic that we can all talk about.”
Coffman applied for the grant with Walmart at the end of last school year.
“Literacy is huge on our campus, and we wanted to include all of our community — teachers, students, parents,” Coffman said. “This seemed like a great opportunity to do that, to make it school-wide, every student reading the same book, and parents included, too.”
The Campus Improvement Team, made up of parents, community members, staff and business owners, came up with the initiative.
“We’re just trying to shift from reading not just to learn but reading for pleasure,” Crippen said. “When we asked our committee what’s another way that we can model the love of literacy for our students, this idea transpired.”
The team helped brainstorm for this initiative and tried to not make the project overwhelming for families. They chose the book to be enjoyable for all the elementary grade levels, team member Kortny Pendergrass said.
“We tried to spread it out so it was a good length of time so you’re not overwhelmed trying to read this huge chapter book,” Pendergrass said.
Parents are encouraged but not necessarily obligated to read or talk about the book with their kids at home, Crippen said.
“It’s a great way to show our kids of how we are a community and we all love to read,” Crippen said.
Hudson Oaks Walmart Assistant Manager Sarah Marburger attended Martin Elementary’s Roo Rally on Thursday morning in honor of the school receiving a grant for Walmart.
“I’m just happy that the kids are able to get books to increase their knowledge,” Marburger said.