Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon

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One of my blog friends recently posted about her experience participating in Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, and I was so intrigued! I’ve heard of marathons, of course, and even dance-a-thons…but I have never heard of a Read-a-Thon. And immediately, the wheels started turning and I started imagining how this could be developed into a school-wide event to promote literacy.

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Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon apparently started several years ago with a single blogger who had a vision. She wanted to put everything aside, for an entire 24 hours, and just devote that time to reading. Of course, being an avid blogger, she wanted other people to join her in this literature-love fest and blog about their experiences as well–and this is what I really love. It’s not just about connecting with a good book; it’s about connecting with each other and bonding over a common hobby. Dewey has since passed away, but her legacy lives on. Dewey’s Read-a-Thon has become a global event that occurs in the blogosphere every October and every April. It has just exploded in popularity, with people signing up to be “cheerleaders” for the readers, people posting and responding to “mini-challenges” during the Read-a-Thon, and all participants posting to their blogs, Twitters, Tumblrs, and Goodreads about their experiences.

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I can imagine this being a school-wide event–and not just for reading. I would also want my students to have the opportunity to get online and write about what they’re reading and connect with other readers as well–the full experience. I want them to not just read because it’s a “school thing,” but rather, feel like they are participating in a global community. These events generally take place on a Saturday, so we would need to open up the school building (the library/media center perhaps?) the night before the Read-a-Thon starts. It would start 12:01 AM on Saturday and end 12:01 AM on Sunday. I would encourage the students to pack as if they are attending a sleepover, bringing sleeping bags, pillows, and throw blankets in tow–whatever they need to get comfortable! They would also be encouraged to bring a few of their favorite books along with them. However, I would want to have some blankets, pillows (and of course books!) ready and available for those students who can only come just as they are. If we wanted to turn it into a fundraiser, we could even get students to find people to sponsor them per page read (maybe ten cents a page) and donate the money to a worthy cause. We would need to find teachers and parents willing to sign up to chaperone different “shifts” during the Read-a-Thon, and also provide a steady stream of food and snacks to the participants. The use of electronic devices would be encouraged (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) so that students could post updates as they read. And of course, it would be great to have some prizes involved for the most prolific readers and/or bloggers–which is only fitting since there is usually a “winner” during a marathon or a dance-a-thon. There’s no doubt that putting on an event like this would take a lot of work and community support, but I can really see it stirring up a lot of excitement about literacy school-wide! What do you think?

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