A golden ticket for all: Taneytown elementary-schoolers are gifted 'Chocolate Factory' books

Parent and staff volunteers decorated the doors of Taneytown Elementary School like the entrance to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for the TES Reads Together program.
Parent and staff volunteers decorated the doors of Taneytown Elementary School like the entrance to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for the TES Reads Together program. (Courtesy Photo)

Taneytown Elementary School gifted each of its students a copy of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to promote a love of reading — and turned the front of the school into a candy land of their own.

Each of the school’s more than 400 students got a copy of the children’s classic, which the whole school will be reading together throughout April and May as part of the TES Reads Together program.


“We decided we wanted to get passion back into reading,” said Kristin Oropollo, reading specialist.

A take-home calendar with suggested reading dates will help students stay on schedule with their peers.


“We just want to get the kids excited … about reading at home and reading on their own,” Oropollo said.

To start off the event, classroom teachers across the grades read the first chapter of the book to their students in class, and some showed clips from the movie adaptations.

There will be a calendar of chapters for the grade levels and trivia questions from the books that are open to all the students. They will announce winners of the trivia questions at the beginning of each week and enter them in a drawing to win prizes.

Big Smiles Maryland Mobile Dentists came to Taneytown Elementary School to provide cleanings for students Nov. 20.

Oropollo said the idea is to keep the motivation rolling throughout the event and help students stick with the book.

Probably the initiative’s most noticeable sign to the community is the display out front of the school, which turns the school’s doors into the entrance to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Wendy Neville, Title I parent liaison, led a group of volunteers as they decorated the building with giant lollipops and fantastical plants.

Whether they have seen the 1971 version or the 2005 version, Oropollo said that reading a book for which they have seen the movie adaptation might help students to connect to the book.

The book, written by Roald Dahl and first published in 1964, is full of “descriptive language and dynamic character development, so it’s a really great [book] for our kidddos,” Oropollo said.

Endeavoring to make science fun for everyone, the Knorr Brake Co. sponsored a science, technology, engineering and mathematics night at Taneytown Elementary School on Thursday. Sixty-seven students and their families attended the Olympics-themed event.

Across the county, elementary reading instruction is focusing on “fiction signposts,” which help students develop critical reading skills by teaching them how to take note of important moments in a book. For example, readers might look for points when a character has a surprising realization that causes them to change their behavior.

Those familiar with the story of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will remember many sticky — or chocolaty or squirrelly — challenges that force characters to confront their flaws.

The activity was led by the English Language Arts Committee, and Oropollo and Neville joined Media Specialist Kathryn Berling, and Title 1 teachers Jenn Ring and Hannah Watt were key planners in the event.

At the end of the reading event, the school will host a closing celebration as they read the final chapter together.

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