Teachers and staff at Washington Elementary School, located at 128 N. Park Ave., take reading to a whole new level.

For the fourth year now, the school has participated in its One School/One Book reading initiative to encourage families to read out loud to their children at home.

"Staff, teachers and kids all read the same book and it's a chapter book. We have a reading schedule so everyones on the same chapter," said Rhonda Koehn, reading specialist at Washington.

This year's book follows the journey of Flat Stanley, a little boy who was smashed by a bulletin board over his bed one evening while he was sleeping.

"He becomes flat and he gets mailed to his grandparents in California. They decided it was a lot cheaper to mail him through the mail since he's flat instead of buying an airplane ticket. That's a small part of the book, but then it talks about his antics of what happens while he is flat. He could go under the door as opposed to having the door open for him," Koehn explained.

The One School/One Book project is geared toward elementary-school students. In years past, students have read "The Mouse and the Motorcycle," "Charlotte's Web" and "The World According to Humphrey."

In addition to reading, the project includes activities that bring the story to life.

"With our One School/One Book project, we always do what's called a culminating activity and we base it off whatever the book is and try to come up with something fun for the kids to do. Mrs. Gum took pictures of everybody in the whole school and we cut them out. For the kids’ part, they decorated (a Flat Stanley), made clothes for him and then we put their face on his head. They also came back with an address of somebody they wanted to mail it too," Koehn said.

Some students’ Flat Stanleys even made it out of the U.S.

"We had some come back from Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Wales," she added.

As the Stanleys trickle back in from their adventures, Koehn has heard whispers and laughs in the hallways and lunchroom as students share their stories.

"We feel like it helps us have some fun discussion topics in the school. Sometimes we'll stop by and say, 'Hey, did you read chapter two last night? Wasn't that cool?' It's just a fun way to promote literacy as a whole school while we're all reading it at the same time," she noted.

Not only is the project a fun and interactive way to get kids excited about reading, it also promotes family time at home.

"It definitely helps them to hear an adult in their family reading aloud to them. What we do is we ask that even if it’s a student that can read really well, we want the parent or adult that they live with read to them. That just helps fluency when they hear fluent reading. Plus, it becomes a family event,” Koehn said.

While this isn't the first One School/One Book activity Washington has done, Koehn said she is pleased with how much participation everyone has put into the book.

"I would say this book offered the most outreach and has had the most interactive learning. They can share with their class different things. In the past, we've done things like snacks related to the book, but this year it's been very out reaching," she added.

For more information, call 620- 241-9560 or visit their website at https://wes.mcpherson.com.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.