Photos: As Students Head for Summer, Madison Says 'Read'

Bus parade also kicks off common book project

staff, faculty and administrators had one last message for students as they left the building for summer break on Friday: READ.

As students left the school by bus, foot or car, employees waved signs and blew whistles not only to mark the end of classes, but also to celebrate the beginning of a new common book project officials hope will unite the community this summer and throughout the coming school year.

"We wanted to have the Madison community- staff, students, and families- to have a connection, a shared foundation that will spark discussions and build relationships," Madison librarian Krissy Ronan said.

All students, parents, and faculty will spend the summer reading "Divergent," a best-selling young adult book by Veronica Roth. It explores the journey of 16-year-olds  approaching a coming of age ceremony in which they must choose one of their society's five "factions," based on single virtues: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).

Throughout the summer, those reading will be encouraged to post questions and comments to the project's blog and by tweeting comments, pictures or other creative interpretations @MadLibrary or using the hashtag #divergentmadison on Twitter. 

There will be a contest in the fall for pictures tweeted from the furthest distance and for most original photos, among other things, Ronan said.

Roth could also be coming to speak about the book, officials said.

Incoming college freshman at several colleges and universities across the country participate in a similar common book experience; several schools in Fairfax County are following suit, Ronan said, including Madison and Kilmer Middle School, also located in Vienna.

"According to the National Endowment for the Arts, 'Reading is a declining activity among teenagers…the percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled over a 20-year period,'" Ronan said. " Statistics like this helped motivate several leaders at Madison to seek creative approaches to encourage our students to read."

At Madison, a committee evaluated several titles and considered many criteria before unanimously choosing Divergent, Ronan said.

"We have selected a book that we believe will have students choosing to read instead of being forced to read," she said.

For pictures from the bus parade, click through the media player above.  Keep an eye on the Divergent Madison website for information about email/twitter contests, discussion blog for the summer and upcoming events for the fall.

Amelie Krikorian June 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Picking one book for discussion is good for a sense of community, but an extended list of books of a similar type would have been nice -- I think too many non-readers will only read the one book this summer and not any others as a result. Maybe next year a list of books that could invite comparisons would be a good idea?
Erica R. Hendry June 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Thanks Gretchen!
Erica R. Hendry June 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Patch teamed up with author James Patterson to develop a summer reading list. You can check it out here http://vienna.patch.com/topics/2012-summer-reading-guide and give feedback!
Krissy Ronan June 20, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Thanks for the idea, Amelie!
Amelie Krikorian June 21, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Thanks, I just checked that link. I think that many of those books are good ideas for a struggling reader, but not really much of a challenge. "Holes" gets read at least twice in school, I believe in both 6th and 8th grades. "To Kill a Mockingbird" needs an understanding of the history of the time period to really resonate with a reader and the early 1900s is not covered in any detail in school until I think 11th grade... so not such a good choice for anyone younger who won't understand it. But I was glad to see it on the list! There are so many great classics that kids are not being asked to read at all anymore! The funny thing is that teachers are being pushed to do teaching across the curriculum -- in other words, having the students read literature during language arts that reflects the period that is being studied in history class -- yet often the books that are being chosen for the students to read are modern ones, which don't really reflect the culture and mores of the period. Kids studying the Civil War ought to read excerpts from Frederick Douglass' autobiography and "Uncle Tom's Cabin," not just some modern fiction based on the time period. I would like to see a list of what people consider to be great classics that everyone should read which in school... I am curious to see if other parents have noticed how few are still being taught.


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