SULLIVAN, Ill. (WCIA) — Connecting Our Town with middle school kids is an achievable goal if everyone’s on the same page. Pages of a book, that is.

It’s called One Book, One Sullivan. The idea is to have middle school students read books all summer long.

Then, they pick their favorite and give anyone in town the chance to read it to. Eventually, everyone gets together to talk about the book.

During the summer, the kids read about a dozen books. When school starts, they pick a community book.

While everyone is buried in the novel, they have community discussions. Kids are getting more out of it than just a good read.

One Book, One Sullivan was developed about ten years ago. Rikki Ray got the idea from one of her students. Since then, dozens of books have been read cover-to-cover.

“I think it opens up our community to read books they may have never read before.”

The middle schoolers read several books from the Rebecca Caudil list. Then, at the end of the summer, they pick their favorite.

“They read outside their comfort zone so they get entrenched in different cultures and ideas they wouldn’t normally be exposed to. They get leadership skills, they get community.”

They take that love and share it with the community.

“We think through one book and one discussion that they have something in common to talk about.”

Students say that’s when the fun part starts. They get to meet with anyone reading the book to talk about it.

“Anybody can come as long as you read the book and you’re able to discuss it.”

“You’ll grab a book and be like, ‘Hey, I read that before,’ so it’s really cool to see that.”

The Sullivan Rotary Club sponsors the program and it follows some of the group’s goals.

“It’s one of our club goals to promote literacy in the community and what a better way than to involve everyone?”

“The community meetings are great, particularly to see the enthusiasm the kids have for the book and for reading and their insight.”

The last book the community read was Paper Cowboy. Kids have already started reading from the new list. When they pick their favorite, they’ll post flyers in town to let people know what it is.