Today, April 12th, is National Drop Everything and Read Day (known as D.E.A.R. Day). D.E.A.R. Day is held on April 12th every year, in honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday. It is "a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority." Partners in D.E.A.R. Day include The National Education Association (NEA); Parent Teacher Association (PTA); the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association; Reading Rockets; The General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC); the Newspaper Association of America Foundation (NAA); First Book; HarperCollins Children's Books; Read Kiddo Read; Walden Media and, of course, Ramona Quimby.
This year, the official spokesperson for D.E.A.R. Day is Joey King, who plays Ramona in the Ramona and Beezus movie, due in theaters July 23rd. Ramona, of course, advises on the D.E.A.R. website that kids "check out all the great books Beverly Cleary wrote about me and Read It Before You See It!"
While there will be D.E.A.R. events held at schools and libraries around the US, all you really need to do to participate is take 30 minutes out of your day, wherever you are, to drop everything and read. Here at Booklights, of course, we suggest spending those 30 minutes reading with a child, if you can. But reading on your own counts, too (though I'd suggest reading books over reading blogs, if you want to be true to the spirit of the day).
The D.E.A.R. website has some wonderful lists of Drop Everything Reads, organized by age range, and compiled by "children's reading experts from Reach Out and Read, NEA, and Reading Rockets". In addition to the somewhat classics-heavy favorites lists, there are also suggested multi-cultural read-aloud titles for D.E.A.R. families, compiled by the Quicklists Consulting Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
How great is it that there's a day set aside to celebrate the sheer joy of reading? The fact that the irrepressible Ramona is the face of D.E.A.R. Day just makes the whole thing that much more fun. Happy D.E.A.R. Day. Enjoy!!