Drop Everything and Read Books
Today, Thursday, April 12, is Drop Everything and Read Day. National D.E.A.R. Day is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority.
D.E.A.R. Day spokesperson Ramona Quimby says: “April 12th will be a busy day for me since that is also Beverly Cleary’s birthday, but I always can find time to read. I am going to tell everyone in my family to Drop Everything and Read on April 12th. We can do it right at home or to make the day more special, maybe go to the library or a bookstore.”
How about you? Are you going to drop everything and read this Thursday? Do it for Ramona and for Beverly Cleary. Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself.
My kids have DEAR day at school sometimes and it’s one of their favorite times. There was even a DEAR day when they were allowed to go in pajamas. I think the idea of Drop Everything and Read is a powerful one. It means that reading is important. Kids also learn that they can focus and read since their peers are doing it. And, magically, the more children read, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes.
I have a young reluctant reader friend who refers to those few precious books as Drop Everything and Read Books because it’s a book that he will drop everything — TV, computers, DSi, Wii, Xbox, play dates — to read his book.
I think the trick is to find commonality in the books that your child considers a DEAR book. If Diary of a Wimpy Kid is such a book and your child has finished the series, find other books like it. I have a post on Spawn of Diary of a Wimpy Kid if this is what you need.
At my house, my first grade son (age 7) is knee-deep in Ninjago Legos. His first DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) beginning chapter book is … ta da the Ninjago chapter books!
I am actually shocked that this is the early book series that he finds enthralling. He wasn’t a kid that into Legos and these Lego characters are rather wooden in expression and do not even possess fingers!
It could be that he like karate and this is a series on karate. The books are actually enjoyable to read and what might be another clue as to its appeal is that each book has 3 short stories. There is always a very short story by Sensei Wu about how he found and recruited each ninja. The other two stories are action adventures that have a supernatural bad guy, his bumbling but martial art fighting skeleton minions, and very limited violence.
There is also a Ninjago graphic novels series that I suspect is next on my son’s agenda. These look more advanced.
The Ninjago Reader series is probably our next purchase. Am I a lunatic by being so bothered that by the lack of fingers? My son thinks so.
The appeal of the Ninjago chapter books could be that they are tied to toys, apps, and TV shows. There is a lot to be said in being immersed 360 degrees in this fantasy world.
My son now has asked for the Ninjago legos but is very specific about which kits he wants. Usually, they are vehicles.
He is also playing Ninjago apps. I found them on my iPhone. The apps are free so when he asks if he can download a free app, I generally say yes.
I am also noticing that he tapes and watches with great anticipation new episodes of the Ninjago cartoon. The animation does not seem to bother him. Nor the fact that the Ninjago warriors can barely change expression, being a Lego piece and all. And the ultimate horror: the lack of fingers. Instead, a crude yellow half-circle to grip.
At the end of the day, I am grateful to these heroes of Spinjitzu who have managed to make my squirmy, screen-obsessed son drop everything and read. Perhaps there is more power in those yellow hooks for hands than I realize.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.