ST. CLOUD -- February is "I Love to Read Month" and that means primary students in the St. Cloud Area School District will be participating in the annual One District, One Book campaign.

The youngest or only elementary-aged child in each household will be getting a copy of “A Boy Called Bat” by Elana K. Arnold this week. It follows the adventures of a third-grade boy on the autism spectrum. Literacy Coordinator Lori Eckert says they wanted to focus on social-emotional learning this year.

Highlighting the idea that we are all smart and we all have things that we do well and we're all learning and growing, but it just may show up in different ways for different people. So let's just look from a growth mindset - how are we all smart and how are we all learning?

Students who are enrolled in the Distance Learning Academy will be able to pick up their copies at Quarryview Education Center during regular hours. Parents will also have access to the activity calendar and chapter recordings for the at-home portions of the program.

Eckert says they worked with autism specialists in the district to develop activities to help students better understand the wide variety of experiences of their peers on the spectrum.

Each week in the activity calendar that we've provided, the specialists have highlighted learning something new about autism and what it might be like to be a friend or to come alongside someone with autism or what it feels like to maybe think that way, and so they provided some awesome resources.

Due to COVID-19 there is no opening event at SCHEELS as has been the trend for the last few years, but several store employees are making an appearance in the game show style “Are You Smarter Than a Skunk” videos that were developed to go along with the book.

Throughout the story, Bixby Alexander Tam, who goes by Bat, tries to convince his veterinarian mom to let him keep a skunk as a pet, so students will also have the opportunity to do a video interview with a local vet.

The book is the first in a series of three which Eckert says will give kids somewhere to go next and keep them reading.

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