The annual Chili Supper on Hannibal's South Side could very much be the start of a new annual tradition.
Starting Oct. 11, the night of the supper, Stowell Elementary School will kick off their "One School, One Book" program. In conjunction with the school, the entire South Side community is invited to read "Because of Winn Dixie" with all of Stowell's students, faculty and staff.
"One of my teachers came to me with the idea. A lot of my family are teachers from Central Illinois and (in Sullivan, Ill.) they had been doing a couple books," Stowell Elementary Principal Josh Foust said. "We have the family involvement committee here and we have our PTO committee; between us three we got together and our whole goal is to raise family involvement. But what we feel family involvement is not coming down and automatically being in the classrooms helping."
Parents already volunteer in the school office and are heavily involved in other activities, but Foust wanted to find another way to not just bond the families, but the community as well.
"That way the neighbors are reading the same book," he said. "My mother has the neighbor kids always come up to her house, she knows what book they're reading, she can ask them questions. 'How's that book going?' 'What about chapter five?' That way it creates a conversation piece for the community which creates that community bond, relationship."
Several books will be made available for anyone who wishes to participate in the program.
"Our Central Administration Office has granted us so much money for parent involvement. We've used that money through the Title I department with Maria Mundle to purchase about 350 books. We figured there's about 200 and something families here in our school and if anybody else in our community wants a book we can kind of have some extra," Foust said. "This is a new tradition we want to keep going. Hopefully if it's successful maybe the whole town could be 'One town, One book'."