Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) | Series 1, Episode 20

Drop Everything and Read (DEAR)

Episode 20

Episode 20 show notes

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Episode 20 transcript

Drop Everything And Read (DEAR)

Drop Everything And Read (DEAR): What Is It and Why Should Schools Use It?

In the bustling halls of schools worldwide, a quiet revolution is taking place—one that champions the power of reading and celebrates the joy of literature. At the heart of this movement lies “Drop Everything and Read” (DEAR), a simple yet profound initiative that is reshaping how students engage with books and fostering a lifelong love of reading.

What is DEAR?

DEAR, aptly named, invites students and teachers alike to pause their daily routines, set aside their tasks, and immerse themselves in the world of books. During designated DEAR sessions, participants are encouraged to select a book of their choice and indulge in uninterrupted reading for a set period. Whether it’s a gripping novel, an inspiring biography, or a thought-provoking article, DEAR time offers individuals the freedom to explore their interests and discover the magic of storytelling.

The Origins of DEAR

The roots of DEAR trace back to its portrayal in Beverly Cleary’s beloved Ramona Quimby series, where the titular character participates in regular DEAR sessions at school. Inspired by Cleary’s depiction, educators around the globe have embraced DEAR as a means to promote reading for pleasure and cultivate literacy skills among students.

Why Should Schools Embrace DEAR?

The benefits of DEAR extend far beyond the pages of a book, encompassing both academic and personal growth. Here are some compelling reasons why schools should embrace DEAR initiatives:

  1. Promoting Reading for Pleasure: DEAR encourages students to view reading not as a chore but as a source of enjoyment and enrichment. By providing dedicated time for independent reading, schools foster a culture where literature is celebrated and cherished.
  2. Enhancing Literacy Skills: Regular engagement in independent reading has been linked to improvements in literacy skills such as vocabulary development, comprehension, and critical thinking. DEAR sessions offer students valuable opportunities to sharpen these skills while exploring diverse genres and topics.
  3. Cultivating a Reading Culture: DEAR initiatives play a pivotal role in nurturing a reading culture within schools, where books are valued and celebrated. By integrating DEAR into the fabric of school life, educators send a powerful message about the importance of lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity.
  4. Fostering Student Agency: DEAR empowers students to take ownership of their reading experiences by allowing them to choose their own books and set their own pace. This autonomy not only boosts motivation but also instils a sense of responsibility and independence in learners.
  5. Building Community: DEAR sessions create opportunities for shared reading experiences, fostering connections between students, teachers, and even parents. By engaging in discussions about their reading choices, participants forge meaningful connections and deepen their appreciation for literature.

Practical Considerations for Implementing DEAR

While the concept of DEAR is simple, its successful implementation requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some practical considerations for schools looking to integrate DEAR into their routines:

  • Establishing a Regular Schedule: Designate specific times for DEAR sessions that align with the school day and curriculum requirements. Consistency is key to ensuring that DEAR becomes a valued and integrated part of the school culture.
  • Providing Access to Diverse Reading Materials: Maintain well-stocked libraries or reading resources that cater to the varied interests and reading levels of students. Encourage students to explore different genres, formats, and authors during DEAR sessions.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Regularly assess the effectiveness of DEAR initiatives through student feedback, academic performance indicators, and observations. Use this feedback to make informed adjustments and enhancements to the program over time.
  • Promoting Teacher Engagement: Encourage teachers to actively participate in DEAR sessions by modelling reading behaviour, engaging in book discussions, and recommending titles to students. Teacher buy-in is essential for creating a supportive and enthusiastic reading environment.

Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) is more than just a scheduled reading session—it’s a powerful catalyst for igniting a passion for reading and empowering students to become lifelong learners. By embracing DEAR initiatives, schools can cultivate a vibrant reading culture, enhance literacy skills, and foster a community where the love of books knows no bounds. As we look to the future of education, let us not forget the transformative potential of a good book and the profound impact it can have on the lives of young minds.

Identifying Potential Pitfalls: Where DEAR Can Fail

Rules, consequences and barriers bread reading negativity. And negativity is infectious, breeds and can destroy your well-meaning initiative in no time. For example: If your school makes it a rule to carry a book at all times, what happens if a child forgets a book? This leads to negativity associated with reading. Also, it incentivizes shortcuts and workarounds that don’t encourage reading. For example, children will only select books that fit in bags, pencil cases or blazer pockets. Children will pretend to read. Children will reread the same book for a year. Children will borrow a book, any book from the child next to them. Children will steal a book from a classroom etc. If these issues are allowed to develop then reading time just becomes a dead time.

When you plan DEAR, plan how to avoid negativity. And actively consider how it might all go wrong in your school. Solve these problems first. That’s the only way to ensure DEAR will work well. Then launch your programme with relentless positivity.

There are three essentials to make DEAR work:

  • Every child to have a book at all times
  • DEAR requires a suitable location to read at all times.
  • Reading must be a positive experience.

To overcome these challenges and ensure the success of DEAR initiatives, educators must employ proactive strategies and thoughtful interventions. Here are some key approaches to consider:

  1. Cultivating Enthusiasm: Foster a culture of reading by stocking classroom libraries with diverse and engaging books, tailored to students’ interests and reading levels. Encourage teachers to express enthusiasm for reading and leverage their subject expertise to recommend relevant texts.
  2. Minimizing Disruptions: Create conducive reading environments by minimizing distractions, establishing low-noise zones, and ensuring uninterrupted reading time. Implement systems to separate administrative tasks, such as registration, from reading periods – and mitigate external disruptions.
  3. Promoting Engagement: Encourage active participation and engagement during DEAR sessions by providing a variety of reading materials, including magazines and audiobooks. Foster shared reading experiences and peer discussions to enhance comprehension and enjoyment.
  4. Empowering Student Choice: Empower students to take ownership of their reading experiences by allowing them to select books that align with their interests and preferences. Avoid imposing questions or assessments during reading time, allowing students to immerse themselves fully in the reading process.
  5. Facilitating Access: Ensure equitable access to reading materials and suitable reading locations for all students. Implement strategies to address logistical challenges, such as providing buffer times in the timetable to prevent scheduling conflicts – it’s no good if student after student comes in and out of the room due to external lessons or sporting commitments.  Coordinating class arrivals to facilitate a cohesive reading experience. Don’t set X come in only to be interrupted by set Y five minutes later.

In essence, the success of DEAR initiatives hinges on the careful balance of structure and flexibility, enthusiasm and empowerment. By addressing potential pitfalls and implementing proactive measures, educators can harness the transformative power of DEAR to instil a lifelong love of reading and pave the way for academic success. As we navigate the complexities of the educational landscape, let us remember the profound impact that a well-crafted story can have on the hearts and minds of young learners.

Episode 20 credits

To see full details of licensing information, Creative Commons, GNU license credits and other attributions that apply to every episode of this podcast, see our School Reading List podcast credits information page.

Credits specific to this episode

  • Kevin MacLeod – Bummin on Tremelo – (purchased lifetime extended license registered to Tom Tolkien license ID FML-170359-11969).
  • Listener submitted monologues from debut and self-published authors. For more details, see the podcast episodes details page.

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About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin