Drop Everything And Read


Drop Everything And Read, DEAR, for short; or Daily Independent Reading Time (or DIRT); or Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), are all terms used to describe a school programme whereby everyone is given the chance to stop what they are doing and read, including teachers and other staff.


How often this is done varies from daily to weekly and for how long from ten to forty minutes.

DEAR programmes have been shown to work and the benefits, in terms of improved literacy and language acquisition, have far outweighed concerns about time lost for 'study' . The references at the end of the post have more information about this for anyone interested.

DEAR programmes share the following qualities:

  1. they encourage as many as half the students who participate to read more outside school;
  2. they engender confidence in the students in their own reading abilities;
  3. they offer opportunities for learners to share their reading experience;
  4. they impact positively on writing skills.

There are many ways in which DEAR programmes can be organised.

Some teachers pair students so that they can read together and help each out when they are unsure of meaning. This might be with others of the same age or a pairing of an older reading mentor with a younger student.

Others ask students to write a journal individually or in small groups about their experience of reading. Whilst some believe other teacher-set tasks should be left out and the activity based simply on reading for pleasure.

However it is organised, all studies agree that teachers who read and let their students see that they enjoy reading, provide excellent role models. By chatting every now and then about their own leisure reading and asking the odd question about their pupils' books, or even comics or magazines, they offer encouragement to their students to read outside their textbooks.

Perhaps it takes courage and a bit of faith to set up a DEAR programme but the results are very tangible and very positive.


  • Bamford, J. & Day, R. (1998): Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom (CUP)
  • Krashen, S. (2006, 2nd ed.): The Power of Reading: Insights into the Research (Libraries Unlimited)
  • National Center for Education Statistics (1997): Digest of Education Statistics, 1997
  • Sheldrick Ross, C., McKennie, L. & Rothbauer, P. (2006): Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals about Reading (Libraries Unlimited)