BEACON FALLS — “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” is at the top of Joelle Kilcourse’s reading list.
The Woodland Regional High School English teacher is hoping the book will make it into the hands of every reader in Beacon Falls and Prospect.
Kilcourse, along with fellow Woodland teacher Paul Geary, is kicking off the second annual “One Region, One Book,” project wherein the organizers invite residents from kindergarten to adulthood to participate in a region-wide book talk.
This year’s book is about a 12-year-old boy who lives in the walls of a 1930s Paris train station. When the orphaned boy uncovers a mystery his father began, he must search for answers in puzzles and secrets.
The book by Brian Selznick won a Quill Award and a Caldecott Medal and is being made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsazy due out in Dec. 6.
Kilcourse said she selected the book because of its universal appeal to students from elementary through high school.
The story is told through both words and pictures.
“Not intimidating if you’re a reluctant reader. … It’s almost like reading a movie,” Kilcourse said.
She said the book has already gotten good reviews in the region. Another teacher read the book to her two little boys.
“They were just totally enraptured with the story of Hugo Cabret,” Kilcourse said.
The program is entirely supplemental to students’ regular coursework. Kilcourse said she hopes it will encourage students and parents to read for pleasure.
“There’s no work. There are no assignments. It’s just for fun,” Kilcourse said.
Last year, the initiative attracted around 200 attendees between three events when the region read “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, a Vietnam War story, according to Kilcourse.
That book was more geared towards high school students, but this year, parents with elementary-aged children wanted to be involved too.
Kilcourse and Geary drummed up excitement for this year’s book with a week-long scavenger hunt at Woodland to win raffle tickets for four hardcover copies of the book.
They included clues on morning and afternoon announcements that led to a staff member, who held five raffle tickets.
Kilcourse said the project involved a lot of different faculty and incorporated themes from the book.
For example, one clue was, “You can clock in and clock out with the help of these ladies,” which led to Deb Betkoski and June Rydzik in the office. Clocks are a big motif in the novel, Kilcourse said.
“It was really fun, and it was a good way to kick off our event,” Kilcourse said.
This year, the Region 16 Education Association donated $500 to One Region, One Book to buy copies of the book for every school in the district so students can check them out of the school library.
The book is also available for $12 on Amazon.com, Kilcourse said.
In addition to leadership from Kilcourse and Geary, two high school seniors, Nicole Ciarmialla and Taylor Cummings are helping foster interaction between the high school and other schools as part of their senior project, Kilcourse said.
“Those two girls are the ones who have been our ambassadors,” she said.
The first event this year was held at the Prospect Public Library in November.
On Jan. 14 at the Beacon Falls Library, “The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins,” another children’s book illustrated by Brian Selznick and written by Barbara Kerley, will be read. The event will involve some type of art craft, Kilcourse said.
With One Region, One Book, Kilcourse wants to send the message that reading is not just something you do in school.
“I think it fosters a sense of community feeling that reading is something that is valuable,” Kilcourse said.
Follow the project on Twitter, @1Region1Book, or Facebook. Readers can also visit the project’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/oneregiononebook/, for more details.