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Childrens author visits schools for student-parent literacy program

Grace Lin discusses her book, 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon'
by: Submitted photo Students at Sexton Mountain Elementary School share the spotlight with Grace Lin, whose book they have been studying in school and with their parents at home.

A Beaverton School District program encouraging families to read together culminated in the most recently featured author visiting two elementary schools last week.

Grace Lin, who won the Newbery Honor for her book, 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,' visited Findley Elementary School on Thursday and Sexton Mountain Elementary on Friday. The Massachusetts resident shared her experiences and background on the book with children in grades one through five.

Molly Sloan, the school librarian at Findley, and Johanna Johnson, a library teacher at Sexton Mountain, arranged Lin's visit to celebrate the ongoing 'One School, One Book' program, now in its fifth year. A book is chosen and copies distributed to the families of all the students, who are encouraged to read and/or listen to the story. Classroom lessons are also designed around the story.

The books are paid for by the schools' Parent Teacher Organizations.

The main character in 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon' is Minli, a young Chinese girl. She is trying to reach the Old Man of the Moon, who can see the future, in hopes of changing her poor family's fortune.

Sloan, a 14-year veteran at Findley, said she chose Lin's book for its universal themes to which all ages can relate.

'It's a classic,' she said. 'It's the best book I can think of for One School, One Book because it has such broad appeal. Kindergarteners love it, fifth-graders love it, parents and teachers love it. It is truly destined to be on the shelf next to 'Charlotte's Web' and 'The Velveteen Rabbit' as a classic of childhood.'

Scholastic Parent and Child magazine, in fact, named 'Where the Mountain Meets the Moon' as one of the 100 greatest books for children, Sloan observed.

'Bringing Grace Lin here was the icing on the cake,' she said.

Lin's visit was booked last fall, but the book was introduced to students on Jan. 23, the beginning of the Chinese New Year, as part of the Asian theme of this year's program.

This was the first year Johnson was involved in One School, One Book. The program evolved this year to have teachers reading the book to students before they shared it with their parents at home.

'The teachers were so enthusiastic, and the parents were so enthusiastic,' she said. 'The kids got so excited: 'Oh, lets read it!' The kids just loved it. The fact that it was so highly received gave it more momentum to get parents to read it at home.'

The reading program is designed to support studies showing that children can become lifelong readers when they share books and literature with their parents, said Johnson, a Bethany resident in her fifth year of teaching at Sexton Mountain.

'This year, teachers are doing a lot of reading, so there's just more of a literacy connection. In this case, it's high-quality literature,' she said.

Sloan said she did her best to make Lin's visit a surprise to the students at Findley.

'And I think we pulled it off for the most part,' Sloan said. 'I wish I could have seen the looks on their faces when we announced it over our school television system. I could hear screams and clapping all around the school, so I know they were excited.

'She became a larger than life figure in our school, as we studied her many books as well as her life story.'

Johnson said Lin did a great job with her presentations, which were separated into groups of older and younger students.

'I think Grace related to them, from kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade,' she said. 'She touched each of them in a different way. They really got something out of her and her presentation. Her message was felt.'




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