We dipped our school wide toes in the pool yesterday. We tried out DEAR time. That time honored tip of the hat to sustained quiet reading. Considering how much emphasis we place on reading here in my district, I feel it is a perfect fit. Reading for the sake of reading, now that is something!
In my classroom, I have to say, it was a big hit. The children were happy to drop everything and read. I had to explain what it meant to some of them and some of them were familiar with the acronym. We had just gotten our book orders in. Not Scholastic books, OUR books. The books my class authored. The PUBLISHED books that hold a story from each author in our classroom, including their teacher. So I passed them out right before DEAR time in case anyone wanted to read them. Many did and some chose to read the book they brought with them. “I’ll read that next, I wanted to finish the book I started,” one told me. Gotta love it!
I have some take-aways from this first marvelous adventure:
- I got another peek at who has continued to build up reading stamina.
- And who hasn’t, yet!
- The huge moan at the closing of DEAR was encouraging!
- Better choices need to be made by some, where should I read, who should I (or shouldn’t I) be near. Choices we can discuss.
- My class was MUCH CALMER at the conclusion. Happier.
- They all wanted to read longer and do it again.
- The reading mindset seemed different than it does during workshop. More personally rewarding somehow. Ownership was higher.
- They seemed to hold their books a little closer. More like their book is their friend.
Now this class happens to have landed in the lap of a teacher who was born with a book in her hands. And they all know it. I get excited about reading and about books. Genuinely, weirdly excited! So more than anything I strive to give my students that same gift. I’m usually quite successful. Between the many chapter books I read to them all year (beginning on the first day of school EVERY year with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”), the mentor texts and “Wisdom” books (aka picture books) we pour over, and the books I read that I am always referring to, they are immersed in the notion that books are important. Wonderful. Important.
And I think it is time now for weekly DEAR. Time to add another notch to the rock wall as we climb towards book lover stardom. Time to embrace reading for reading’s sake. Time to set aside our crazy busy lives and read. Because you can’t get there unless you walk the walk, book by book!
And with time, my genuinely weird excitement for reading will continue to spread! Thanks, DEAR.