Bettendorf students will plant tree on Earth Day and tie ‘Wishtree’ wishes to fence

Local News


Students at Neil Armstrong Elementary School, Bettendorf, will participate in a tree-planting ceremony on the school grounds on Thursday, Earth Day.

After that, all the students and staff will tie a wish to the fence surrounding the tree. This ties into what happens in the “Wishtree” book that all the students have been reading.

All students and staff will able to celebrate the successful completion of the book. 

Neil Armstrong school-wide ‘Wishtree’ reading project

Teacher-Librarian Colleen Gould received a grant from The Bettendorf Community School Foundation to purchase the book “Wishtree” for all students and staff at Neil Armstrong Elementary.  The New York Times best-selling novel is about an oak tree and a crow that help their neighbors embrace their differences.

The students also are working with the Read to Them program to encourage and enable reading together at home by providing every school with tools, resources, guidance, and support.

The grant and collaboration with Read to Them is providing the school’s staff and students the opportunity to come together as a school through reading the same book throughout the month of April.

In addition, students have activities in the library, daily trivia, and family activities to try at home. the superintendent is also participating in reading along with the school. 

Parents and Guardians letter

Earlier, parents and guardians received a letter about the initiative:

Dear Parent/Guardian:

Our school is about to take part in a special, school wide shared reading event for the month of April, National School Library Month. Every family will receive a copy of the same book – “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate – and will be asked to read it together at home over the next few weeks.

I am personally asking you to make the time so that your family can participate in this special activity. Reading aloud at home is valuable because it better prepares your child to be an effective reader, and it is also a fun, worthwhile family activity. With this program, we aim to build a Community of Readers at our school. Everyone – students, parents, teachers, even administrative staff – will all be following along together.

Your child will receive a copy of “Wishtree” at school on Wednesday April 7th after watching an
introduction video. They will also receive a reading schedule so that you can keep up at home.
Generally, you will be asked to read about 15 minutes each night.

In school, your child will be invited to answer trivia questions to encourage and reward attentive
listening. Daily videos of the chapters we’re reading for the day will also be posted for students to
enjoy. You will soon find that your child will take pride in knowing and anticipating the details of the
story. In library, students will explore the book through activities and discussion. You will want to
make sure your family keeps up so that your child can be included.

Throughout the month, everyone will be talking about “Wishtree!” We will conclude our book with a planting of our own wish tree at school on Earth Day, April 22nd, for students to enjoy in years to come.

This is a novel program in that children of all grade levels will all be listening to the same book. Strange or daring as that may seem, it actually makes sound educational sense. Reading professionals recommend reading material out loud that is beyond a child’s own reading level. We also believe that you can and should continue reading chapter books with your older children, even when they are able to read by themselves.

We have selected a title that can be followed and understood and enjoyed by younger students, but will still captivate and stimulate older children. I know that you’ll enjoy this special reading time with your children. I hope to talk with both you and your student sometime in the days to come about Red’s experience when a new family moves into her
neighborhood.

“When a whole school reads a book, there’s a lot to talk about.” With your help, we can
build a Community of Readers at our school.

– Ms. Gould
Teacher Librarian Neil Armstrong Elementary

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