CRLS Unites in Reading at School-Wide Readathon

Margaret Unger, Metro Editor

On Friday, April 8th, CRLS students participated in a community Readathon in the CRLS Library. 75 students—randomly selected from a pool of 167 applicants—took part in the event, which lasted from 8 AM to midnight. Over the course of 16 hours, participants worked to select one book—Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds—which all CRLS students will read this summer. The idea for the Readathon originated as a part of the One School One Story initiative. This program aims to foster connection through reading by asking all students to read a shared book over summer vacation. CRLS librarian Ms. Kendall Boninti explained to the Register Forum that this project “stems from dissatisfaction with the way we’ve done summer reading for years.” She elaborated, “We weren’t reaching everyone … talking about engaging things, important things, timely things through literature is where we ultimately wanted to go with the program.”

The goal is to find a summer reading book that isn’t completely school-driven and completely feels like an assignment

The committee behind One School One Story consists of a diverse group of teachers, students, and other staff members. Since its formation, the committee has worked to plan an enjoyable and inclusive summer reading experience for all. Committee member Ayanna Thomas-Vital ’24 told the Register Forum, “The goal is to find a summer reading book that isn’t completely school-driven and completely feels like an assignment. Something that the students can have a voice in.” The culmination of months of planning, the Readathon itself was divided into 45-minute segments of small-group reading from the eight finalist books, followed by an 15-minute break for games and food. In the initial email to students about the event, the committee wrote, “Read for an hour, 15 minute party—repeat 8 times!”

After each segment, participants eliminated books from the eight finalists until only remained at the end of the night. Meals were also served, and all students who participated received nine community service hours. Beyond just the readers, the event brought together culinary students, who prepared lunch, photography students, who documented the event, and even 8th graders, who joined via Zoom. Prior to the Readathon, CRLS Instructional Technology Specialist Ms. Paige Graves stressed to the Register Forum, “It’s not just a CRLS thing. We want this to be a community thing.” Committee member Gemma Shoor ’25 echoed this sentiment, telling the Register Forum, “our main goal is for us to build community through a mutual book experience.”Several Cambridge officials also made an appearance, including Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and Superintendent Victoria Greer.

While the logistics involved with organizing an event of this scale were extensive, Ms. Boninti emphasized that it was the efforts of the entire One School One Story Committee and the community behind it that made it possible. Furthermore, the needs of the community will remain at the center of summer reading at CRLS moving forward. Ms. Boninti told the Register Forum, “We want it to be as inclusive as possible. We know one book doesn’t fit all, and so we’re going to do everything we can within this committee to make this book accessible to all students.”

This piece also appears in our April 2022 print edition.