Students in Elizabeth Page's third-grade classroom at Stevenson Elementary School are sharing the experience of reading a book with children as far away as Maine and as close as right upstairs.
Page and her students are participating for the third year in Global Read Aloud, a project with a stated mission of "one book to connect the world."
The 2017 Global Read Aloud began Oct. 2 and wraps up Friday, Nov. 10.
Each year, the project selects books for children at various reading levels, from picture books for the youngest kids to novels for high schoolers.
Teachers who sign up for the project make connections with schools from across the globe.
Page's class is communicating via Padlet with schools in York, Maine, and Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Students in Stevenson second-grade teacher Barb McCauley's class also are taking part in the program.
"It's an exciting program because it allows students from all over the world to read the same book at the same time and discuss and collaborate about it at the same time," Page said.
"They're able to get different perspectives and hear different ideas," she said. "It expands their viewpoint from outside of just their classroom and classmates."
The 2017 Global Read Aloud book for early readers is "Fenway and Hattie," by Boston-based writer Victoria Coe.
Coe tells the story of Fenway, a Jack Russell terrier whose best friend is his human, Hattie, and the new experiences he has when Hattie's family moves from the city to the suburbs.
"The whole book is written from the point of view of the dog," Page said. "A big part of what this book is about is learning to look at things from others' point of view. When you begin to do that, you learn about empathy."
Coe has been actively involved in the Global Read Aloud, posting weekly videos and answering questions submitted by classes on Twitter and in her video posts, she said.
The author already has answered two of the questions submitted by Page's class.
"The students asked her if she had ever thought about writing a nonfiction book and if she would be willing to read the nonfiction book they are writing," Page said. "They were so excited when she answered the questions."
They were even more thrilled when Coe said she would be happy to read the third-graders' book, whose topic is Grandview itself.
Each student selected an aspect of Grandview they know about and will be asked to write a chapter about that subject.
Later in the year, students will research and write their own individual nonfiction books.
During the six-week Read Aloud, Page and her students are spending a portion of each day engaged in activities related to the project.
"We're either reading the book or communicating via Padlet with our partner schools," Page said. "We've been mapping the locations of our partner schools and working on a map of Boston, identifying the different places Victoria Coe has been talking about in her videos."
Communicating with classes from other schools, as well as the author of the book they are reading, is motivational for her students, she said.
"When you have a larger audience, it makes you feel that what you have to say is valued," Page said. "Plus, the collaboration is helping them learn from others' perspectives."
It's fun to hear from students in other parts of the country, third-grader Evan Grainger said.
"Sometimes they have an idea that's surprising," he said.
"I'm really excited that an author is going to read the book we make," Evan said. "As a class, we couldn't believe it when she answered two of our questions."
"The first time she answered one of our questions. we were super-excited," Luke Sanzo said. "We all started clapping and cheering."
The weekly videos from Coe are interesting, Natalie Brown said.
"She talks about her books and her family and what she does when she writes," Natalie said. "It's pretty cool to see the person who wrote the book you're reading."
She loves "Fenway and Hattie."
"I like how it's told from the dog's perspective," Natalie said. "It makes you understand how a dog might think about things.
"My family's going to be getting a dog soon. I think I'll be able to understand her a little better after reading this book."