Jefferson Elementary School students are going on an adventure with a hamster for the next month as part of a One School, One Book initiative.

The fun began Aug. 23 and continues through Sept. 19, as the entire school reads Betty G. Birney's "The World According to Humphrey" one chapter at a time.

Young readers can have their parents read aloud or go to a link on the school's website to hear a different teacher or staff member read to them, according to Roben Frentzel, the school's principal.

School activities also will be introduced with concepts from the book.

The project began with a school assembly where some staff members dressed in hamster costumes.

Second-grade teacher Valerie Hofmann kicked it off, reading, "Our story begins at the Petorama where a little hamster lives."

"Each day lots of moms and dads and children visited Petorama for the perfect pet," Hofmann continued.

But, she explained, everyone seemed to want a dog, or a cat or a fish.

No one wanted a hamster and the hamsters felt really bad about that, Hofmann said as the story continued.

Eventually, a lucky hamster named Humphrey lands in Ms. Mac's Room 26 at Longfellow School. He then relates the wonderful times he has had with Ms. Mac, a temporary, but long-term, substitute teacher. He's later heartbroken because Ms. Mac has left the school to teach in Brazil.

Mrs. Brisbane, the classroom's permanent teacher, returns but doesn't want Humphrey to stay.

The story unfolds from there, taking readers along with the adventurous Humphrey.

Jefferson Elementary has its own hamster named Humphrey, who was introduced to students on Aug. 30.

Once he gets acclimated to his new home, he will be spending time with the different classes, according to Frentzel.

Stacie Callihan, a second-grade teacher at Jefferson, said she's loving the One School, One Book project.

"We talk about the previous night's reading every morning during morning meeting," she said. "There are questions that the students can answer every night and they can turn them in for a chance to win a prize."

Callihan said her class always goes over the answers to the questions together, then a few students will share what they liked or what they thought was surprising or exciting about the reading.

Students can watch staff members reading the chapters and it's fun to hear the students get so excited about seeing former teachers reading to them, Callihan said.

"I love how excited students are each day reading the book," she said. "I have a second-grader at Jefferson, and as a parent it is so fun experiencing that excitement with my own daughter.

"She is so excited to read every night and cannot wait to see what Humphrey is up to next," she said.

On a closed Facebook group, Jefferson families can share pictures and comments about One School, One Book.

"This project has been a hit with our entire family," said Whitney Love. "The kids can't wait to read each chapter together."

"We love the YouTube links," said Nikki Hershberger Fisher. "My middle schooler even joins us. Today we listened while eating snacks, but we also like to listen in the car."

Frentzel has a site where families can click on a chapter and different staffers will read the chapter.

Emmy Smith Morrow said it's even more fun to read with family and friends.

"We all love the book and sometimes find it challenging to not keep reading," Morrow said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla