At the sound of a tone and a jingle of music over the school public address system, Tecumseh Elementary School students immediately put down their pencils or crayons, pulled books from their bags or desks and began to read.
Classrooms schoolwide were silent for 15-20 minutes each school day during Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) as students were transported to the world between the pages of their chosen books. The DEAR activity was one of several events and activities to commemorate Tecumseh’s annual reading celebration, which took place May 17-21. This year’s theme was Reading is a Party.
“We want to instill a love of reading in our students, and so we planned a number of activities to make it fun,” said Susan Ransier, who teaches second grade and chaired this year’s reading committee. “It’s been a strange school year so we also wanted to celebrate how far we’ve all come this year.”
Each school day during the celebration week, students participated in such activities as decorating bookmarks and paper party crowns shaped like book covers, enjoying pre-packaged snacks while reading in their classes and recording the number of minutes they read at home, competing for a grade-level popsicle party prize for the classrooms whose students read the most minutes total by the end of the week.
To support the party theme, teachers decorated their classroom doorways with streamers, and school librarian Susan Glisson gathered together a collection of party-themed books. The hallway walls were peppered with paper pennants that students decorated with pictures and text describing a book they were reading, and Principal Tokinma Killins shared a video of herself reading that teachers played for their students.
Students also had the opportunity to “shop” for books to take home. Families donated gently used books, which were placed in quarantine before being divided up by grade level so students could select books to take home. Art teacher Lindsay Williams got in on the fun and worked with fourth-grade students to create and decorate two signs for the book “sale.”
A committee of staff representing each grade level plans each year’s celebration, which has become something the whole school looks forward to, Ransier said.
“It’s just a fun way to get them reading,” she said.