How To Make The Most of D.E.A.R. This April
Beverly Cleary once said: “Quite often somebody will say, 'What year do your books take place?' and the only answer I can give is, in childhood.” Indeed, since it was first published in 1955, Cleary’s Ramona series has shown her unique ability to write from the complex but always honest perspective of a child. It’s therefore no huge surprise that “Drop Everything and Read” (or D.E.A.R.) is celebrated annually on Cleary’s birthday, April 12th.
On D.E.A.R. day, teachers and families ask children to spend 30 minutes reading any book of their choice to encourage their love of reading. If you'd like to re-visit this magical day and re-read some old favorites of yours from the glorious past, I've got you covered in this post.
Ages 4-7 (Picture Books)
"Bear Snores On"
This cozy New York Times bestselling story features a hibernating bear and a host of different forest animals who visit his caves as he sleeps.
"Where the Wild Things Are"
One of the most loved picture books of all time, Where the Wild Things Are dives into young Max’s imagination as he journeys to far-flung places. Let the wild rumpus begin, as Max learns the real meaning of home.
"Charlotte and the Quiet Place"
Charlotte lives in a busy city, where it’s nearly impossible to find peace and quiet. But when her dog Otto leads her on a wild chase through the park one day, she stumbles across the unimaginable: a quiet place of her own.
"From Far Away"
Can you really mention picture books without bringing up Robert Muntsh? In From Far Away, he works with coauthor Saoussan Askar to bring her childhood story of immigration from Lebanon to Canada to life. This book is a great resource to help children empathize with their immigrant schoolmates.
Ages 6-10 (Early Readers)
"Horton Hears a Who"
One day, a speck of dust appears to Horton the elephant. Horton discovers that speck is actually a planet called Whoville, and spends the book doing his best to protect the people of Whoville who can’t fend for themselves in this beloved book by Dr. Seuss.
"Frog and Toad Together"
The Frog and Toad series features two best friends who are, well, a frog and a toad. While they share lots in common (such as a love of gardens and flying kites), it’s their differences that make their bond all the more compelling.
"Junie B. Jones: Toothless Wonder"
A long-time favorite of first-graders, this installment of the series has Junie encountering a loose tooth for the first time. In classic Junie-style, this event leads to a whole world of questions: what will she look like with a missing tooth? And just who is this tooth fairy lady?
"Juana and Lucas"
Juana lives in Bogotá, Colombia with her best friend and pet dog Lucas. Her grandpa is encouraging Juana to learn English for a trip they’re taking, but Juana might need an extra bit of convincing about why learning new languages matters.
Ages 8-12 (Middle Grade)
"See You in the Cosmos"
Filipino-American Ale Petroski wants to let aliens know what life on earth is all about. So, with his dog in tow, he sets off on an adventure across Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Along the way he meets a multitude of people who each teach him just a little bit more about what it means to be human.
"Charlie and Frog"
All children want to feel they are heard. When Charlie, a hearing boy meets Francine (aka “Frog”), a deaf girl, they become friends — but, also, co-detectives. For it’s up to the pair to solve the mystery of a woman who gave Charlie a frantic message via sign language, but who has now gone missing.
Danny Bigtree and his family have just moved from the Mohawk reservation to Brooklyn, where he is confronted by teasing classmates. Danny is proud of his heritage, but the mocking he receives at school challenges his resolve. How will Danny find the courage to stand up for himself?
"Karma Khullar's Mustache"
Karma Khullar is just about to start the 6th grade. And she’s dreading it for exactly 17 reasons: 17 new hairs above her upper lip. Karma wants to talk to her best friend about it, but her friend seems busy making new friends! Not to mention that things at home have been complicated, which means that Karma is left to decide what these 17 hairs mean for her on her own.
12-14 (“Young” Young Adult)
Stanley Yelnats is cursed. In fact, it’s a curse that has followed all Yelnats’ since his great, great grandfather. And now it’s landed him in a boys’ detention center where he spends his days digging holes. Why? Well, it looks like the warden is looking for something, and Stanley is determined to find out what… even if it means risking his own life.
When a band of rabbits is forced from their burrow in Southern England, they must set out on a harrowing journey in search of a safer home. If you’re doubting whether a story about rabbits can really be all that exciting for a young teen, give the classic Watership Down, and its themes of rebellion, evil, and survival, a chance.
"To All the Boys I've Loved Before"
You’ve likely already heard of this one because of the Netflix movie adaptation. But just in case, here’s a quick refresher. Over the years, Lara Jean Song has developed a habit of writing secret love letters to her crushes — letters she keeps in a box, never to be seen by anyone else. Of course, things don’t go as planned… and one day Lara discovers her secret letters have been (gasp!) mailed out to her crushes.
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"
Set in 1942, Bruno comes home from school one day to find that his family is moving from Berlin to a place called “Out-With,” because his father has received a high-paying job there. Upon arrival, Bruno discover it is a desolate place with almost nothing to do. So he sets out to explore the area, and ends up meeting a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a fence.
15+ (Young Adult)
"The Sun Is Also a Star"
Natasha is a Jamaican teenager whose family is about to be deported from New York City to Jamaica. Daniel is a Korean-American teenager struggling to live up to his parents’ expectations. The two meet and spend one day together, falling in love over the course of 24 hours. What will happen when the day is up?
"The Rest of Us Just Live Here"
Mikey isn’t what you’d called the classic “Chosen One” character that features in so many fantasy stories. He’s a teenage boy with severe OCD and anxiety, and he’s just trying to work up the courage to ask his crush to prom. Though the occasional zombie attack and explosions every other day are hindrances, Mikey tries to go about his extraordinary life as ordinarily as he can.
Written by self-published author Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl follows Catch and her sister Wren, who have spent their whole lives as diehard fangirls of the Simon Snow book series. But now, as the two prepare to leave for college, Wren has grown out of her Simon Snow obsession and is distancing herself from Cath — who feels completely out of her comfort zone at university, and is not quite as ready to grow up as Wren is. But, at the end of the day, what does “growing up” really mean? And does it require you to leave so much of yourself behind?
While this is definitely a book readers younger than 15 can (and should!) read, it’s really a timeless classic than can be enjoyed at any age. It follows 12-year old Jones who lives a content but very ordinary life. But when he is given his “life assignment” — to be the Receiver of Memory, a person who stores all past memories — he starts to realize that there are dark and complex realities lurking beneath the seemingly utopian facade of society.
The books you read as your grow up can have such a strong influence on the person you become. If you’re looking to really make the most of D.E.A.R. day this year, Reading Rocket (one of the holiday’s sponsors), has tons of wonderful resources to help you out. Including:
As another champion for children’s reading once said: “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” – Dr. Seuss
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