Unless you have already graduated, chances are you don’t have many opportunities to shrug off all other responsibilities and just read. Enter Clara Hardy and Anita Chikkatur.
Hardy, a Classical Languages professor, and Chikkatur, an Educational Studies professor, organized a small gathering of faculty for a Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) event on the Bald Spot last Thursday during common time.
Intended as a way to unwind before the chaos of spring term finals descends upon campus, DEAR encouraged a few dedicated professors to read some of their favorite books. Among their recommendations include Machine of Death, a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories submitted online with a general theme of people knowing how they will die, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by blogger Jenny Lawson, which is about the author exposing her most embarrassing stories with a sharp wit.
Professor Adriana Estill of the American Studies department recommended the latter, adding that “it’s fascinating how the Internet medium is blending into the mainstream, printed medium.”
The organization for the small event “was pretty random,” according to Hardy. The idea was first discussed on an NPR story about a protest in Tunisia. Instead of protesting with signs on the streets, the protesters sat on the sidewalks and read literature as a demonstration of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), an alternative name for DEAR. The point of the protest was to draw attention to the literary culture of Tunisia, instead of just the violence lasting in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
Chikkatur and Hardy both read the story and were inspired. Chikkatur recalled thinking, “that’s a really cool idea – Why don’t we do it at Carleton?”
If the phrase “DEAR time” sparks any childhood memories, it would probably be because the DEAR/SSR programs have been implemented in many elementary and secondary schools across the country. Children’s author Beverly Cleary became a major advocate of the program and eventually her birthday, April 12th, became the official date of National Drop Everything and Read Day.
Hardy hopes more Carleton students will become aware of the program and participate on April 12th or any other day of the year.
“It would be nice if we could do this more often. I feel like students, and faculty as well, enjoy reading for fun, but their focus goes elsewhere,” said Hardy.
So if at any time you feel like the stress of finals is overwhelming you, here is some advice: stop, drop your worries, drop your fears, grab a book, flip through its pages, focus your attention, and read.