Drop Everything and Read
Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
-- Mortimer Adler
| Second graders Ho Min-Kyung and Lee So-Ri
sit quietly on the floor, sharing a quilt and Jan Brett's The Mitten.
Nearby, classmate Kim Gung-Hee sprawls on a rug, giggling occasionally as
he reads a dilapidated copy of Laura Numeroff's Dogs Don't Wear
Sneakers. The whole room, in fact, is a mass of children and books. Even
the teacher seems to be in on the action as she sits at her desk with the
latest Grisham novel. What's happening in this classroom? These children
and their teacher are enjoying D. E. A. R. time, a fresh method of turning
kids "on" to independent reading.
What is D. E. A. R.?
Drop Everything And Read time, better known
as D. E. A. R. time, is a time regularly set aside in the classroom schedule
for both students and their teachers to "drop everything and read.." D. E.
A. R. time conveniently accommodates a variety of student interests and ability
levels, since each student selects for himself or herself the book or books
he or she wishes to read. D. E. A. R. is not intended to be . .
a substitute for other language arts instruction
-- D. E. A. R. supplements the regular reading program by encouraging independent
reading, but it does not replace guided reading.
an extra activity that gets plugged into the
schedule when another lesson finishes early or dropped from the schedule
when a lesson runs longer than expected or a fire drill interrupts class.
D. E. A. R. time is "dear." It is an important part of the daily or weekly
classroom schedule. It is scheduled for the same time each day or week so
students recognize that D. E. A. R. time is a priority and so that they can
look forward to this special period.
a time for students to select books. When
D. E. A. R. becomes a regular part of the classroom schedule, each student
should bring a book from home or select a book from the classroom library
before D. E. A. R. time begins. When D. E. A. R. time arrives, every student
should be prepared to pull out immediately a pre-selected book and begin
a graded activity. D. E. A. R. time has one
purpose: getting students excited about reading. Although book reports and
reading quizzes may serve a purpose in direct reading instruction, they should
never infringe upon D. E. A. R. time. If students want to tell about
the books they have read (and many will), they may write recommendations for their books and post these on a bulletin board in the class library center,
or add an evaluation for the book to a classroom database.
a teacher's escape from teaching. D. E. A.
R. time should be quality time, but not necessarily a large quantity of time.
Ten minutes a day for younger students or two fifteen- or twenty-minute periods
each week for older students is ample. Remember, the goal of D. E. A. R.
is to encourage students to read independently. Give them class time
to begin a work, to get interested in the story, then let them finish it
Making D. E. A. R. work for you . . .
Build a large classroom library
-- include books from a variety of genres and books written at various reading
levels. Children surrounded by books are more likely to read books. Even when on vacation --let's say you visit Miami and are staying at one of the many Miami hotels, shop around for some books. The same thing applies if you are staying at one of the many San Francisco hotels, shop around whenever and wherever you can.
Develop a literature-rich classroom
environment. Create comfortable areas for reading; put a large rug,
bean bag chairs, large pillows, child-size rockers, and so forth in the library
area. Make sure reading area is well-lit. Display prominently posters about
various books. Hang student-created book mobiles around reading area. Let
students take turns "advertising" their favorite books. For younger students,
purchase stuffed animals related to favorite stories -- Winnie the Pooh,
Clifford, Arthur, Paddington Bear, etc. Set up a file system through which
students can share their comments on the books they've read with the class.
Read excerpts from various books aloud to class; show students the book from
which you are reading, and let them know that the book is available in the
class library. In general, let students see that you place a priority on
Expose children to a variety of
genres. Some children think they don't like reading because they
haven't liked the selection of literature to which they've been exposed.
Present nonfiction titles including biographies, autobiographies, historical
works, and scientific works. Present a range of fiction including adventure,
fantasy, mystery, science fiction, historical fiction, and general selections.
Present poetry and humor. Help students understand that books, like ice cream,
come in a myriad of flavors. . . . There's something for everyone!
Teach students how to find books in
the library. Teach all students how to find fictional works according
to the author's name and how to look for books in card catalog or database.
Teach older students how to use the Dewey Decimal system.
Enlist parental support. Ask
parents to take their child to the library regularly, to buy books for their
child, and to donate books their child has outgrown to the school for others
to enjoy. Encourage them to discuss the book their child is reading with
the child and to let the child see them reading.
Set aside regular times in the class
schedule for reading. If D. E. A. R. time is set to begin at 2:15
every Tuesday and Thursday, then it should begin at 2:15 every Tuesday and
Thursday, except in the case of life or death emergencies.
Make sure every child has a book to
read before D. E. A. R. begins. A good way to do this is to hold
a book check right before recess or lunch. Any child who does not have a
book at book check should take a few moments to select one from the class
library so that he or she is ready to read when D. E. A. R. begins.
Allow children a high degree of control
over their reading selections. You may choose to disallow some series
of books because of objectionable content, but try not to limit genre or
reading level. Whether the child selects an easy book that he or she can
read for pure enjoyment or a hard book that poses a special challenge does
not matter. All that matters is that the child learns to enjoy reading.
If a child begins reading a work in
D. E. A. R. time, only to discover that he or she intensely dislikes the
chosen book, let the student choose another book. Sometimes, it
may take a student a chapter or two to get interested in a book, so you might
encourage the child to keep reading (or even begin reading at a later point
in the book) and at least give the book a chance. A few students may also
try to take advantage of this option, and it may occasionally be necessary
to make these students choose a book and stick with it. As a general rule,
though, avoid requiring a child to read for pleasure a book he or she does
not find pleasurable.
Purchase some sturdy portable cassette
players and a selection of books with accompanying tapes (or narrate popular
stories onto cassettes). Let children with major reading problems
listen to the story and follow along in the books. While they may not be
reading independently, they are still making associations between words and
meaning, and they will enjoy getting the author's message from the book.
Do not make students report on their
reading. Encourage them to share their favorite books with other
students, but don't demand that they share. Remember, D. E. A. R. time is
supposed to be fun! -- not another academic exercise.
Always read with your students during
D. E. A. R. time. Remember, students are watching your example. D.
E. A. R. is not the time to grade spelling tests or prepare for math class.
It's a time to show students that reading is fun!
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