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COLUMN: Drop everything - and read

Thorold News library columnist Rebecca Lazarenko on how a day for book enthusiasts turned into a whole month of literature
drop everything and read pic

Drop Everything and Read Day (or D.E.A.R.) is observed on April 12 and originated in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby, Age 8. By design, the occasion falls on the author’s birthday – and is made ever more poignant this year on what would have been her 105 th celebration, now shortly following her March 25 passing. Cleary was a wildly popular children’s writer, creator of feisty young female characters (also, one notably cheeky rebel mouse), and remains the reason we insist on introducing ourself in the above format – full name, then age (it started out pretty cute, now we’re going through a weird stage, but it’ll get cute again – just wait it out).

Not surprisingly, Drop Everything and Read Day eventually extended into Drop Everything and Read Month – and while we’ve been arguing its validity for the past several decades, it just seems like if ever there were to be a year best suited to Drop Everything and Read, this one would be it. Consider this the unofficial inauguration and our past activity its preemptive unofficial acceptance.

But don’t let the acronym fool you, D.E.A.R. is a highly intricate procedural structure best enacted by strictly adhering to the following detailed explanation. Nope. It’s really just exactly as it sounds. As you may know, we’ve pulled this kind of thing before with many similar events peppered throughout the year and disguised in various suits: Family Literacy Day, Read a Book Day (that one gets points for creativity), Book Lovers Day, Library Lover’s Day, Book Lover’s Library Day (Ok, that one was us just riffing), World Read Aloud Day, Tuesday, Saturday – and so on.

If it’s at all unclear, the overarching message is take the time to revisit the simple pleasure of reading, wherever or however that might look – a concept of particular importance to emerging or reluctant readers. It’s recommended to devote at least 20-30 minutes for leisure reading with your little ones each day.

While Ramona herself preferred the sophistication of the term Silent Sustained Reading (the more formal label for school-based recreational literary pursuits), the spirit behind it sets somewhat of a different tone from the more colloquial D.E.A.R. – the most important distinction being the subtle nod to requirement versus want. In order to encourage development, it’s important to focus on the subtleties of the experience and – here’s the key – overall enjoyment.

Is the reading itself not the experience? Well technically, yes. But imagine trying to watch a movie with no popcorn, a screen the size of a small napkin, and a questionable bucket for a chair. Why does the bucket have to be questionable? No idea. It’s just somehow worse than no chair at all. Reading, similarly, has a whole host of connotations – good and bad – with which children have come to associate. As adults, we still remember the thrill of a Scholastic book fair, know the importance of page texture, or understand the heightened ambience of a new novel when accompanied by the right tea. Children are no different in emotionally associating each act with a prior experience, regardless of their potential inability to verbalize this awareness.

An excellent step to adopting a regular D.E.A.R. habit is visiting the library. Yes, even if only for curbside pickup. You could revisit some Cleary classics like Muggie Maggie, Henry and the Clubhouse, Socks, or Beezus and Ramona. Fun fact: pre-covid, we often used the latter as one of our clues when we played library BINGO at a retirement residence each month. Though they 100% know this particular clue was coming and had previously heard the name approximately 87 times, 90% would comment on what a weird and modern (always emphasis on the modern) title it was as if we’ve brought about some wild, newfangled contraption of which they were skeptical.

Original date of Beezus and Ramonas publication: 1955.

If you’re looking for something fresh, consider elevating your literary commitment with some of these newly added juvenile titles:

Boy Who Lived with Dragons by Andy Shepherd
Carpenter's Helper by Sybil Rosen
Flash Facts by Mayim Bialik
Laxmi's Mooch by Shelly Anand
Looking for Sleep by Georgiana Deutsch
Madam Hortenisa by Carmen Gil
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain
Mindi and the Goose No One Else Could See by Sam McBratney
More than Fluff by Madeline Valentine
The Nice Dream Truck by Beth Ferry
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham
Out of Nowhere by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Pepper Page Saves the Universe! (Infinite Adventures of Supernova, Vol.1) by Landry Q.
Walker
Pup Detectives: The First Case by Felix Gumpaw
Raindrops to Rainbow by John Micklos Jr.
Son by Ariel Andrés Almada
Toucania by Marianne Ferrer

You can order any of the titles listed (or others) by placing a hold in our online catalogue or giving us a call at 905-227-2581. We can also pick items for you via our curbside curation service. Yep, that’s a thing.

Phone or email at info@thoroldpubliclibrary.ca, let us know how many titles you want, some kind of genre direction, or a ballpark of the number of kids you have,
and we’ll take it from there.