Oh DEAR, Drop everything and read? Really?

Some 15 years ago, Drop Everything and Read was where some song or sound played at random points throughout the day. Everyone was to stop what they were doing immediately and start reading the book they were to carry around with them during the DEAR week. Then the announcement would come on some time later and we were to resume regular activities.

I hated it.

Most teachers hated it.

It was intrusive, it interrupted those kids who were in flow, and created two new points of transition in the day. Besides that, it just isn’t the way we read.

Following up on a post to the English Teachers' Association NSW Facebook page, I decided to have a quick peek to see what I could find.

(Wu, Wu, & Lu, 2014) Suggests that careful planning and some kind of structured approach to teaching reading is important. DEAR is included as one such strategy.

Another literature review reveals that a regular scheduled program of reading for pleasure in school has a positive impact of a child’s love of reading, and the value they place on reading (Pegg & Bartelheim, 2011). DEAR is mentioned as one such initiative.


Lee-Daniels (2000) report describes experiences with a year two class engaged in DEAR. She found that excitement for the program wore off and needed regular invigoration. She describes an incentive strategy to build intrinsic motivation as well as some other strategies for keeping DEAR fresh.

Olivar, Manalo, & Palma’s (2014) report seems to approach DEAR as a context for content engagement rather than reading for pleasure. They also address the issue of intrinsic motivation but describe their interventions in terms of assignments and projects as motivators to engage in DEAR.

Pruzinsky (2014) suggests that, while DEAR may seem to divert time from heavy content courses, the time spent reading strongly benefitted students. He describes the larger program by which he engaged students and made DEAR part of the program rather than a diversion from it. This article has many ideas for implementing an effective DEAR program.

Cummings (Cumming, 1997) describes the positive effects of a DEAR program in a remote Canadian community with a largely oral tradition. The author used participant generated content and variations on reading locations and times in an attempt to establish a culture of joy in reading.

None of that research had measurable data to support claims, but the bottom line seems to be that DEAR is effective if it is responsive to the audience, is tweaked along the way to keep it interesting, and is part of a regular program. Certainly not the kind of DEAR I experienced early in my career.


Sources cited:

Cumming, P. (1997). Drop everything and read all over: Literacy and loving it. Horn Book Magazine, 73(6), 51–53.

Lee-Daniels, S. L., & Murray, B. A. (2000). DEAR me: What does it take to get children reading? Reading Teacher, 54(2), 154–159.

Olivar, L. L., Manalo, J. A., & Palma, A. M. (2014). Awareness of maritime students in Lyceum International Maritime Academy on the Drop Everything and Read ( DEAR ) Program. Academic Research International, 5(3), 206–213.

Pegg, L. A., & Bartelheim, F. J. (2011). Effects of Daily Read-Alouds on Students ’ Sustained Silent Reading, 14(2).

Pruzinsky, T. (2014). Read Books. Every Day. Mostly for Pleasure. English Journal, 103(4), 25–30.

Wu, R., Wu, R., & Lu, J. (2014). A Practice of Reading Assessment in a Primary Classroom. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(1), 1–7. doi:10.4304/tpls.4.1.1-7


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