One Book, One Bellefonte
“All are welcome.” That was the theme to Bellefonte’s fifth annual One Book, One Bellefonte event. Under the umbrella of Bellefonte Reads, the goal was to help connect the community through a series of books that correlate with the latest theme of inclusivity. Families in the community were invited to the event to participate in literacy activities and go home with a free book.
And the event was such a success, committee members needed to make a second order of 176 books for local families who attended the event just as books ran out. In total, 693 books were distributed to families – nearly 200 more than the number of books given out at last year’s event.
“One of the things we loved was hearing kids and parents talk about books,” committee co-chairwoman and elementary literacy coach Nicole Kohlhepp said. “We want to keep that conversation and excitement going about books.”
Selected by a committee that oversees Bellefonte Reads, members chose to highlight five books this year. The feature book was “Refugee” by Alan Gratz, for students in middle school and higher, and was accompanied by companion books with similar messages for younger students. The other alternate books are, “Wishtree,” by Katherine Applegate; “Her Right Foot,” by Dave Eggers; “Strictly No Elephants,” by Lisa Mantchev; and “We Are All Dots,” by Giancarlo Macri.
“Refugee” follows the story of three young people who go on separate journeys in search of refuge. Along the way, they face challenges, but all have hope.
Through the perspective of a tree, “Wishtree” tells the story of a family who recently moves to an area near the tree, but is not welcome by others.
“Her Right Foot” is a picture book that explains why the right foot of the Statue of Liberty is in motion.
“Strictly No Elephants” is a book for early elementary school-aged children about a boy and his pet elephant who finds that the local pet club doesn’t allow elephants. However the boy sets out on a mission to find a solution.
“We Are All Dots: A Plan for a Better World” is a book that helps explain that humanity’s challenges can be settled by compassion and understanding.
According to Bellefonte Reads committee co-chairwomen Kohlhepp and Jackie Wynkoop, families were also encouraged to read and talk about the selected book or books together – to help challenge perspectives, spark discussion and inspire action.
According to Wynkoop, research shows that the more children read, the more successful they will be. Research also strongly supports the importance of book ownership.
“I think it’s the foundation to a successful life, so it’s critical that we’re giving away quality books for free to families,” Wynkoop said. “I think that other than providing your child with love and food and shelter and clothing, reading books with them and stressing the importance of reading at an early age is one of the most important things a parent can do for their child. They can read books in school and go to the library, but it really makes a difference when there are actual books in the home.”
A Community Literacy Night will follow to celebrate literacy and include a series of activities that are fee to the community. The event is made possible with support from benefactors and volunteers.