One good memory I have of teaching in the elementary school is Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.). There was not an assigned time during the day, instead, we were encouraged to choose random times for the D.E.A.R. activity. Students loved the surprise of being released from their other schoolwork. They also loved getting comfortable with a book for some uninterrupted reading time. This allowed the students to choose their reading material and, I hope, instilled the habit of reading for pleasure every day.

I no longer teach, but I haven't given up my own D.E.A.R. time. In fact, dropping everything to read is what I do best. Sometimes I'll pick up a book, thinking I'll read a couple of chapters, but I don't look up again until the book is finished. I believe I could serve as the poster child for D.E.A.R.

Here are some of my recent D.E.A.R. reads:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This is the story of a young black man falsely accused of a crime. He's educated, successful, and a newlywed. But a woman says he's guilty of rape, and the jury accepts her testimony without further evidence. His belief is that his race convicted him. He is sentenced to prison, and the aftermath is well-told with several twists and surprises. 

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
This is an upper middle-grade novel about friendship and time travel. Not all the characters are who they appear to be. Can something bad be good? It's hard to tell until the ending.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo
This middle-grade book is my new favorite. Every child knows that some toys are more than toys. The story is as touching as The Velveteen Rabbit, but with more adventure. This book evokes emotion and would be a good classroom read aloud.


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