CAMDEN — A One School, One Book reading program at Camden Middle School got off to a flying start Monday with an appearance by birds of prey and their handler, who was the inspiration for a character in a related book by the featured author.
The birds from Raptor Project Inc., with founder and president Jonathan Wood, were at kick-off assemblies for grades 5-8 to introduce the reading program for the child/young adult novel “My Side of the Mountain,” by Jean Craighead George.
Wood says he was the inspiration for the character Jon Wood in the novel “Frightful’s Mountain” by Craighead George, the third in a trilogy of books after “My Side of the Mountain” and “On the Far Side of the Mountain.” The “My Side of the Mountain” book features a coming-of-age story about a boy who seeks to live on his own in a forested area, and trains a baby falcon that become his companion. The falcon is named “Frightful.”
Jonathan Wood, through his Raptor Project initiative, trains and cares for a large traveling collection of birds of prey, including delivering lectures and exhibits across the U.S. annually, according to his raptorproject.com site. Among his exhibits and shows have been at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.
For the Camden Middle School One School, One Book program featuring “My Side of the Mountain,” a total of more than 600 students in grades 5-8 will be receiving a copy of the book, said reading and English teacher Tara Baker, one of the event’s organizers. In addition, all middle school staff members also will receive a free copy of the book, she noted. The books were purchased using Title I funding through that federal educational assistance program.
A small committee of middle school English teachers was formed last year for the One School, One Book program, said Baker, adding that she contacted Wood.
Students will be asked to read “My Side of the Mountain” at home from Sept. 10-Oct. 2, according to a letter Monday to Camden Middle School families by the school’s English department. The letter includes a daily schedule of pages to read, involving a “chapter each night — about 15 minutes of reading depending on the chapter length.”
The letter added that many classes this month may include activities in conjunction with various chapters of the book. It asked parents to “please try to make daily progress with the reading so that your reader will be able to take an active role in these activities and discussions.”
The letter further said “we hope that you enjoy this reading adventure and that throughout the month you will be able to share many conversations with your student about this adventurous tale of survival.”