12 April 2010 11:24 AM

Drop Everything and Read Day

by Dr. Rick

This week is National Library Week when we appreciate the treasures of our libraries.  Today is a special day within this special week.  Schools all over the country are celebrating the annual Drop Everything and Read Day, a helpful and healthy tradition easily transferred to homes.  I’ve visited many schools on D.E.A.R. Day to read to and with children.  They love the responsibility of selecting their own reading material and feel grown-up, trusted, and in charge.


I even had a form of D.E.A.R. for my high school students, although I had a more grown-up name for it, Independent Reading.  Older kids like anything with “independent” in it.


Here are some reasons why I heartily support D.E.A.R. Day.

  1. It can be more than one day.  Yes, we celebrate a “national” day, but there’s no reason why kids can’t drop everything and read every day.  And there’s no reason why it can’t be imported to homes, either.  A regular reading routine encourages kids to quiet down, focus on a subject of their own choosing, and build the habit of lifelong reading.  To encourage students in grades K-8 to develop a love of reading, visit www.BookAdventure.com.  Book Adventure is a Sylvan Learning-created reading motivational website where kids can create personal reading lists based on their interests from more than 7,500 titles, take comprehension quizzes and redeem points for small prizes.

  2. It encourages conversation.  Kids love to talk about their special interests.  This is a great chance to allow for conversation among family members.  Share your special interests, talk about your favorite books when you were their age, listen carefully to what children tell you about their favorites.

  3. It lifts other language arts skills.  Language arts skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – improve when kids are exposed to the written word.  When reading is followed by some informal conversation, or even some writing in a personal journal, the experience deepens and spreads to others.  A great way to discover new interests and talents.

  4. It creates routine.  Regular readers of the Dr. Rick Blog know the significance of healthy, smart routines for children.  Reading time becomes an integral part of the other routines that make children feel safe and provide them with structure and clear expectations.  Reading routines join bedtime, waking, playtime, family time, homework, and mealtime routines.

  5. It’s quiet.  Quiet time is more valuable (and necessary) than we recognize.  Everyone needs some time to tune out the noise of our hyperbolic world and re-connect with our thoughts.  For an agreed-upon time every day – say, fifteen minutes, or longer for older kids – turn off the TV, music, and video games, and everyone in the family reads quietly.  You may be surprised at how the energy level of the house lowers along with the volume.  You may get resistance at first.  Stick to your guns.  You’re right.  Eventually, they’ll get into the spirit.

  6. It builds a home library.  When your family commits to D.E.A.R. you’ll quickly notice the increasing amount of reading materials in the house.  You’ll go to the library more often, your kids will notice their new interests in newspapers and magazines, and everyone will want to share their new knowledge with each other.  You may have to institute a “Show and Tell” time periodically!  To help build a home library, visit www.BN.com/BookAdventure to receive a special discount from Barnes&Noble.com!   (Link to http://btob.barnesandnoble.com/index.asp?r=1&btob=Y)

  7. It encourages learning.  Since kids get to choose their own reading material, they’ll feel free to explore new topics – sports, history, science fiction, science facts, the arts – and become experts.  They’ll appreciate the freedom, and you’ll show an interest in what they’re learning.  They’ll enjoy feeling like an expert, and you’ll feel proud at their new knowledge.  They’ll grow, and you’ll be amazed.

  8. It can help school grades.  When kids increase their reading skills, they become more self-assured, their willingness to participate in class discussions grows, and their teachers will notice.  So will you.

  9. It builds confidence.  Kids get to take control of their reading, they learn about new topics of their own choosing, they assert their independence, and they become the family expert on a particular subject or skill.

  10. It’s fun.  Trips to the library with you, showing off new knowledge, being the center of attention every now and then, and spending quality family time add up to fun and happy memories.

I’ve written a lot about encouraging kids to read.  Read about summer reading as you begin to think about the upcoming hot days.  Or about family reading when you’re looking for more quality time with your kids.  If you’re looking for some writing experiences with your kids, check out what I’ve written about gratitude journals.  And if your youngest kids are itching for more substantial reading, see what’s in my blog about chapter books.  Encourage your kids to read and you’ve done a major part of your job of preparing them for Life.  




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