Across School District 73, elementary students were reading en masse on Monday, but reading with an important distinction in mind.
The occasion was the Drop Everything and Read Challenge (DEAR) during National School Library Day.
DEAR, sponsored by the B.C. Teacher Librarian Association, is simply the current handle for educational concepts that have been around for years, including sustained silent reading (SSR) and free uninterrupted reading (FUR).
Whether its DEAR, SSR or FUR, students are being encouraged, not just to read, but to read material of their own choosing.
Research in recent years underscores the importance of young readers reading by choice in order to encourage lifelong habits, said Andrea Wallin, library co-ordinator for the school district.
“Choice is important,” she said. “It’s really important. Whatever floats your boat.”
The Kamloops-Thompson district has the greatest participation in DEAR of any in the province, she noted. The program also serves to identify books of interest, giving educators a leg up.
“A big part of our role as librarians is to define books that kids can see themselves in,” Wallin added.
Kids at Aberdeen elementary were engrossed Monday in either reading on their own or in groups.
Kamloops firefighters and TRU Wolfpack players got involved by giving group readings at various schools. Modelling the activity by reading to children also encourages individual habits, said Rae Carter, teacher-librarian.
DEAR seemed to spark enthusiasm, too.
“It’s because you get to look for your own books,” said Kelsey Watson, a Grade 3 student. “It’s pretty fun because you can sort of explore how you’re in the book,” she said of the imaginative challenge.
The type of material isn’t important, it’s how the reader is engaged.
Nicolas Leggett, from the same class, was drawn to an atlas because “you can see where Kamloops is.”
Firefighter Kevin Cassidy has kids of his own and reads to them, but this was a little different.
“I think it’s good for them to see different people in the community from different professions reading to them. It’s kind of role modelling and gets them excited.”
“Any time you can celebrate reading is good for schools,” said principal Sally Zryd.