Drop Everything and Read Day

“Extensive research shows us that reading for pleasure not only builds literacy skills but also enhances creativity, builds empathy and supports strong mental health. Surely everything society needs more of.”
Jonathan Douglas, chief executive, National Literacy Trust

Pupils in Years 7-9 had an unusual start to their lessons on Wednesday with special time scheduled in all classes to Drop Everything and Read.

Coinciding with World Book Day, the day was a new initiative to promote reading and remind pupils and teachers alike of the joys to be found in a book. Pupils in Years 7-9 already have fortnightly Library lessons, and English lessons start with a few minutes reading as part of the normal curriculum, but Drop Everything and Read Day saw every class from Science to Art to Design & Technology incorporate a few minutes of quiet reading at the beginning of each lesson.

With the only stipulation being ‘quiet’ reading of either fiction or non-fiction, there were no restrictions (other than the school’s normal safeguarding policies) on what pupils could choose to read. Consequently, choices were varied, with books ranging from Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy, Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and titles from the Murder Most Unladylike series, to a biography of Jude Bellingham and Catherine Johnson’s Race to the Frozen North, a fictionalised account of the first African-American man to reach the North Pole.

There is a wealth of evidence for the benefits of reading, from improvement in academic performance in subjects other than English, to developing a child’s empathy.  Reading is also known to improve concentration, improve vocabulary and strengthen memory and neural pathways, and the University of Sussex has even produced research suggesting that reading fiction for just six minutes can reduce stress by up to 68%.

Head of English Kirsten Guy said, “In English we’ve seen that starting lessons with a few minutes reading promotes focus and encourages engagement with the tasks that follow. I’m delighted that dropping everything to read across the school gave our already keen readers more time doing something they love, and for those whose first choice of recreation may not be to pick up a book, it presented an opportunity to rediscover how diving into a book provides an escape from the everyday into a world where anything is possible.”

The activity was enthusiastically received by pupils, with feedback including:

“I made a lot of progress in my book. It was great and I think we should carry on doing it every lesson from now.” Mahin (reading Dead Boys’ Club)

“I enjoyed that everything was all quiet and peaceful.” Eva (reading The Weight of Water)

“It’s nice to get more time to read in the week.” Avina (reading The White Giraffe)

“I really enjoyed the fun of the book and how much it engaged me.” Daniel (reading A Long Walk to Water)

“It gives you time to calm down after lunch/break.” Greta (reading War of the Wind)

“I enjoyed everything about this, it was a lot better and more relaxing than normal, we should be able to do this every lesson from now on.” Samuel (reading Boy 87)

“Lessons felt smoother and more relaxed, and I got to read a lot of my book.” Louis (reading Rendevouz in Russia)

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