Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 9:03 AM

In my elementary school days, it was called SSR (short for Sustained Silent Reading). Now, D.E.A.R. is the acronym of choice, and today is National Drop Everything and Read Day, a time when teachers, parents, and librarians get together with young readers across the country to make reading a priority.

National D.E.A.R. Day also marks the birthday of beloved children's book author Beverly Cleary. Legend has it that Cleary wasn't always an avid reader herself. Not until third grade did she she discover a love for reading, after starting with the pictures in The Dutch Twins, a 1911 children's tale available in Google Book Search. If you're looking to reacquaint yourself or some of the children in your lives with Cleary classics, you can also preview a number of her Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse titles.

There's even a mention of D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8, when Mrs. Whaley explains that "every day after lunch we are going to sit at our desks and read silently to ourselves any book we choose in the library" (with no book reports!). In the end, Ramona decides she prefers Sustained Silent Reading to D.E.A.R. "because it sounds more grown up."

Whatever you decide to call it, enjoy D.E.A.R. Day!


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