When author Beverly Cleary’s children were in school, they participated in D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything And Read). Cleary liked the concept so much that she incorporated D.E.A.R. into her popular Ramona Quimby books, and the idea took off! In gratitude to Cleary, April 12 (her birthday) is National Drop Everything And Read Day.
Though D.E.A.R. is targeted at children, at Writer’s Relief we obviously think that readers of all ages should celebrate! Because as we get older and life gets busier, it can be harder and harder for adults to drop everything and read. Many adults who were avid readers as children now go weeks—even months!—without reading a book. It’s time to start reading again!
Some Great Ways Adults Can Drop Everything And Read
Choose a special location.
In school, teachers try to make reading fun. (One Writer’s Relief employee was allowed to climb under the teacher’s desk and turn it into her own tiny reading room.) A change of locale and scenery can make reading a book something to look forward to.
Adults can do the same thing (although squeezing under a desk might not be as comfortable now)! Choose someplace special for your reading time, whether it’s your bed instead of the couch, that coffee shop you’ve always been meaning to go to, a public park on a nice day—whatever helps you avoid distractions (grocery lists, laundry to fold, the work you brought home, etc.) and focus on reading!
Read the book you REALLY want to read.
Just because you’re a “grown-up” doesn’t mean you have to limit your reading to stuffy, “respectable” books. Here’s a secret: You can read whatever you want to read! The classics and the New York Times bestseller list are fine for some, but they aren’t the only books worth reading. There are lots of books available in dozens of styles and genres.
So if you’d rather read a cozy mystery or even the latest YA novel (more than 50% of YA readers are adults) instead of Anna Karenina, don’t feel guilty. Read what you enjoy!
A great place to find reading suggestions is goodreads.com. You can start your own bookshelf or check out ours for some ideas.
What? Dinnertime already? Okay, just let me finish this chapter!
Consider your reading time nonnegotiable.
Let your family and friends know that your reading time is for reading only. If you set the expectation that you do not want to be interrupted for thirty minutes, it will probably be a lot easier to actually keep your reading time dedicated solely to reading.
Read aloud with friends and family.
Reading doesn’t have to be silent and solitary. Get a group of your friends or family members together and take turns reading aloud! It can be interesting to hear how others think a character speaks, or which parts would be read quietly or with great animation. You may gain a whole new perspective on what’s happening in the story!
Start a book club.
A book club is a good way to get yourself on a reading schedule. Knowing that you have a standing engagement to discuss chapters will help nudge you to make time to read. After all, you don’t want to be the only one who isn’t caught up during the discussion!
Borrow instead of buy.
You may be more likely to try new genres or read more books if you don’t have to hand over your hard-earned cash each time. Check out the offerings in your local public library—the variety and selection may surprise you! Today’s libraries aren’t limited to dusty old books on the shelves. You’ll find the latest bestsellers available, plus you can borrow e-books. And if you’re not sure what your next read should be, the librarian will be happy to help you choose.
Here’s a bonus for harried adults: A library is a quiet refuge, making it the perfect place to escape your daily mayhem and enjoy some peaceful alone time surrounded by books.
Many teachers extend D.E.A.R. Day activities beyond the official day, encouraging students to “Drop Everything and Read” multiple times a week at home. For every thirty-minute block of reading completed, students receive a sticker or smiley face on their charts. When a child reaches a certain number of stickers or smiley faces, he or she earns a reward.
You don’t have to make a sticker chart for yourself—although you can if you’d like! But you can come up with something similar to keep yourself motivated to read. For every three chapters read (or whatever number of pages you prefer), you earn a reward: a new book, lunch at your favorite restaurant, an hour of guilty pleasure TV show time, sleeping in on a Saturday…whatever makes you happy!
Reading is a wonderful lifelong hobby, and we love that this holiday highlights not only the act of reading itself, but the act of purposefully making the time to read. Grab a book and celebrate Drop Everything and Read Day—happy reading!
Question: What book are you reading—or wanting to start?