One Book, Two Schools program was generously funded by the 112 Education Foundation allowing all D112 6th graders to read the novel Refugee by Alan Gratz in their English and Spanish Social Studies classes. The intention was for students to engage in important literary skills, while also building community through a common experience, both within each school and across the district. Students participated in a variety of activities, from answering video questions posed by Dr. Lubelfeld, to replying in writing to each other’s opinions about meaningful events in the novel. Teachers were able to incorporate ample real-world connections that allowed students to read, discuss, and write about the current events in our world. It was a great opportunity for all 6th graders to engage in a meaningful, common experience that helps make them more active citizens in our world.
To complement the “One Book, Two Schools” grant the 6th grade middle school social studies teachers brought in speakers to share personal accounts of surviving and thriving as refugees. Through the Sudanese Community Association of Illinois, we were fortunate to have Lost Boys Peter Magai Bul and Gabriel Dut Atem share their stories with all the 6th graders in the district. Having the Lost Boys of Sudan speak to the students was a wonderful companion piece to our reading of the book Refugee. It allowed the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts of life as a refugee and provide a better understanding as to the different reasons why refugees exist throughout human history. Furthermore, it allowed students to, once more, recognize that refugees are not a story from the past, but a real-world issue of today.