- Mapleton Public Schools
Mapleton Reads returns for 10th year, and to its roots
Mapleton Reads, Mapleton Public Schools’ community reading program, just turned 10 years old and, for the first time in a few years, is returning to its roots. The program was intended to have community members, be they students, parents, neighbors, etc., read the same literature every fall and winter to engage in conversations about it. But COVID-19 limited how much people came together for any reason for the last few years.
“We tried to get the books out as much as possible, but because no one besides students were coming into our schools, it really just became a classroom thing,” said Karla Gruenwald, Mapleton’s Director of Data Driven Learning and Early Literacy.
Now that the community is returning to normal, she is trying to push this year’s books out again. At the moment, stacks of both of this year’s titles await readers of all ages at the district’s Welcome Center, the Mapleton Arts Center, and each schools’ main office. District bus drivers are also gifting the books to “Student Riders of the Month,” Mapleton’s driver-nominated helpful young commuters.
Gruenwald chooses books each year with great care. She begins by scouring numerous book lists, talking to librarians, and taking recommendations from bookstore employees before whittling down all possible contenders to a list of 10. Then she reads them all to decide which ones will be the most inclusive and carry messages that will resonate with, connect, or inspire readers. She chooses two or three, one each for different, basic reading levels, before finally presenting them to the district’s Board of Education to finalize the choices.
This year’s selection for grades K-3 is "Because” by New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems. The story is about a young composer and her moving, magical journey to center stage.
For grades 4-12, and older, Gruenwald picked “An Elephant in the Garden: Inspired by a True Story,” by Michael Morpurgo. The historical novel depicts a family that saves a German zoo elephant during World War II.
Gruenwald hopes that students will love them and learn the value of literacy and that the annual tradition connects people once again in a time when it is so easy to drift apart.
“This isn’t just about children reading, but an entire community reading a book so that we can put down our phones, turn off the social media, get lost in some literature and have good, thoughtful conversations about it,” she said.
But if readers can’t completely shut off social media, they can at least keep up with Mapleton Reads on the Mapleton Public Schools’ Facebook page to engage in book discussions.