Our school community is reading Katherine Applegate’s, Wishtree, for our annual One Book, Two Schools experience. Each year, we select a title that we will read together and then pass the book onto another school community to enjoy. When Wishtree first came out, a few years back now, we passed it around and fell in love with the story. This year, our principal suggested it as our community read aloud, despite the fact that it is still only available in hardcover. When our PTA agreed to help fund the additional cost, we knew we had our book.

Usually, our One Book is read at home with some connections back to the classroom. This year, we decided to do things a little differently and after kids read chapters at home, we are rereading them together at school the next day. This has given me a chance to try bringing a nagging idea of what k-5 read aloud could look like to life. It has also opened doors to bigger conversations about how to talk to kids about tough topics…how do we as adults talk about hard things.

Last week, our principal asked how I thought things were going. I told her I hadn’t heard much. I hoped people were reading. “We will find out more during our faculty meeting,” she said.

And we did! Everyone met in mixed grade level breakout rooms to talk about how the experience was going. I debriefed with our literacy team following the meeting to hear how their groups had gone. We were so excited to hear that classes were indeed reading the book and having rich conversations in their classrooms.

Somewhere along the way of planning this experience, Peter, a colleague and fellow slicer, suggested that we could have kids adopt a tree and just observe the community that lives there-like the characters in Wishtree. We just ended Spring break and I spent a lot of time in our backyard. My eyes kept noticing the different characters living there, just as Peter had suggested. This noticings inspired another installment of the Squirrel Chronicles…a little series I’ve started after noticing the squirrels in our yard.

10 thoughts on “Wishtree

  1. The Squirrel Chronicles is collection in the making! I love that Peter’s words/idea have lingered with your over time and here they inspired you to notice, observe and create a new installment to the series! The deliberate choice of color and words in the episode is spot on!


  2. I’m intrigued with your book study. This part spoke to me: “It has also opened doors to bigger conversations about how to talk to kids about tough topics…how do we as adults talk about hard things.” It’s so important to have shared experiences as a staff to foster these conversations. On a different note, the Squirrel Chronicles is so funny!


  3. Loved Wishtree, love that you are doing it as a school/community wide readaloud, and LOVE the Squirrel Chronicles. Your passion and commitment to meaningful experiences for students shines through in this post.


  4. This post has it all, really: a community of readers, a community that reflects & shares experiences, fellow writers, connections between books & your own life and then your own layers of text. I mean… WOW. What could be better?


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