Sister Classroom Winter Break Readathon

Hello, everyone! Welcome to winter break! That lovely time between the days when your students are hyped up on peppermint-laced sugar (though some prefer sugar-laced peppermint) and dancing around awaiting their vacation and the days when your students are hyped up on the promises of snow days and bemoan the fact that they are no longer on vacation.

In other words, welcome to #bookaday and the Sister Classroom Winter Break Readathon.

Many of you are probably familiar with Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday challenge. It is a challenge for teachers, librarians, students — really anyone who wants to — to read an average of one book per day over the two large breaks in the school year: winter break and summer break. More details can be found here.

Many of you are also probably familiar with the #throwdown challenges that we have run with our classrooms and with teachers and librarians over the summer. These have been fairly successful for promoting reading, but there has always been something nagging at both of us: the goal isn’t reading. The goal is to read more than someone else. Reading is a necessary element of this, but it’s not the goal. Like running is absolutely crucial in a soccer match, but it’s not the goal. We want to have more of a fun run type of event. A charity 5k, if you will. Everyone can go at their own pace, there are no losers, and everyone comes out ahead. And if we “raise enough money” (or read enough books), then we will have even more to celebrate.

So, this winter break, we are running a Readathon with our students. Our goal? Read. The mark we set for ourselves is 438 books: 3 books per person. We think we can hit 500, but we also wanted the goal to be student-centered. 3 books per person (which is also 1 book every 6 days over the 18 days we are running this challenge) was a lot more meaningful than 3.42 books per person.

As with all our challenges, there are some rules to keep some structure:

  • All books count, with the exception of picture books (though we encourage you to read those anyway!)

Okay, so it’s really more the one rule.

We pitched the idea to our students this week. Some of them thought the goal was crazy. Others were really excited. Both of our classrooms had decimated bookshelves by the end of the day, and we had lines at the Classroom Organizer check-out computer longer than we knew what to do with. Many students were glad to have a goal set for them. They knew they would read some over break, but didn’t know what would be a good number. They’re happy to have a goal to reach: “at least 3 books.” If we reach our goal as a group, we will have some sort of celebration when we return from break. But this wasn’t mentioned too much, as we really want the reading to be its own reward.

Will this be successful? Who knows. As with most everything we do, we know the theory is solid. There are bits of research here and there to support us. But until we try it, we don’t know how it will go. So we’re trying it. And we’ll see how it goes.

Even though Brian wrote the title of this post, he’s wondering if it’s redundant to put “sister classroom” in it. He’s going to keep it in there anyway (as is evident by the fact that it’s in there).


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