Last week marked an important date in the literary world. April 12 is known as D.E.A.R. day. D.E.A.R. stands for Drop Everything And Read. Drop Everything and Read has been embraced by libraries, schools, and families. The notion of Drop Everything and Read is referenced in the second chapter of “Ramona Quimby, Age 8,” and Ramona is the campaign spokesperson. Beverly Cleary is the author of “Ramona Quimby” and the significance of April 12 is that it was the author’s date of birth.

Cleary published her first book in 1950 and is known for writing relatable stories regarding the everyday lives of what would be considered middle-class characters. Some of her most well-known titles are “Henry Huggins,” “Ramona Quimby” and “The Mouse And The Motorcycle.” Cleary passed away just shy of her 105th birthday in March of 2021. She left behind a legacy of material that is still relevant today.   

The aim of the D.E.A.R. initiative is to encourage families and learners in general to stop what they would normally be doing and allot a time to read aloud for at least 10 minutes. It is a method that helps build learners’ literacy skills and is useful for maximizing the learners depth of knowledge in a subject. Although we have this designated day to promote reading, no one has to limit their D.E.A.R. activities to just one day.

Celebrating reading often and in a variety of ways will help all members of a family learn to value reading, understand the significance of literacy, and tap into the magic of books. While the D.E.A.R. concept is typically geared towards children, the ability to impact all ages and levels of readers is ever present. Evidence has shown that reading can help adults to relax, as well as relieve stress and improve empathy.

Some positive effects of reading on tweens and teens are that it helps develop social skills, brings a sense of social and political awareness, as well as providing motivation to bring about change or achieve high standards. The following are a few ways to incorporate reading into everyday activities.

  1. Have a family read aloud. All members can take turns reading aloud which allows unfamiliar words to be sounded out and pronounced correctly. This will improve a reader’s fluency and can help individuals gain confidence in their reading skills. This activity can be done as part of the bedtime ritual, but may take place at any point during the day.
  2. Keep a journal. This can be a wonderful way for children, young adults, or adults to focus their thoughts, learn to think about how they are feeling, and to reflect on what they have read. Allowing individuals to choose items such as their own journal, crayons, colored pencils, or pens along with some stickers to decorate it will add to the appeal.  Encouraging daily journaling, even if it is only the date and one word or picture that sums up how they feel that day, will remind them of something that happened.
  3. Retell a story.  The ability to retell a story after reading it, or having it read to them, is a great exercise for children as it teaches them about reading comprehension. Understanding and regurgitating what one reads is important for all ages and readers. This process can aid with the ability to perform future tasks such as breaking down the jist of a document that requires a signature, understanding a policy that seems confusing, public speaking experiences, finding the confidence to utilize one’s voice, and stirring up their own creativity. If parents, teachers, and caregivers listen and praise the reader, they can help them to grow and exercise their memories and imaginations.
  4. Play a game. Drop Everything and Read is not usually taken literally, but who is to say that it should not be? If you have little ones who are practicing their reading skills, making a game of reading will magnify their engagement. Using soft, non-breakable items, create an obstacle course of sorts for your children. Have them carry items from one spot to another and at some point, they would just drop everything and read. This might occur when music stops, an alarm sounds, a light flashes, etc. To increase the challenge, hide words / notes near where you want them to drop everything and have them search for the things to read. Books related to particular topics can be incorporated to ensure the children are learning real-life, relevant lessons. The possibilities are endless with the type of games that could be created.

If you would like to explore titles by Beverly Cleary, as she is the inspiration behind this day, please visit the Salina Public Library’s online catalog or come into the library and browse the shelves. We have numerous titles written by Cleary such as “Ramona And Her Father,” “Ramona’s World,” “Ramona La Chinche” and “Beezus and Ramona.” Not only that, but SPL carries complete series that she has produced including “Henry Huggins” and “Ralph S. Mouse.”  

We also offer titles about Cleary herself, if you are interested in her biography, “Meet Beverly Cleary” or a personal memoir, “A girl from Yamhill.” All the items discussed come in several formats including audio books, DVDs, e-book, e-audiobook, and as always—paper and hardback books. 

Have fun exploring … stop, drop, and read!