As has been noted widely, today is Beverly Cleary's ninetieth birthday, and, not coincidentally, the first annual Drop Everything and Read Day, inspired by an episode in Cleary's Ramona Quimby, Age 8:
"No book reports on your Sustained Silent Reading books," Mrs. Whaley promised the class. Then she went on, "I don't think Sustained Silent Reading sounds very interesting, so I think we will call it something else." Here she printed four big letters on the blackboard, and as she pointed she read out, "D. E. A. R. Can anyone guess what these letters stand for?"
I like the sentiment--how could you not?--but a visit to the D.E.A.R. website has me spitting tacks with its endless frantic iterations to "celebrate reading together!":
Drop everything and read--literally! Have your special guest readers put down the tools of their trade--a doctor lays down her stethoscope, a chef his apron and spoon, a coach her ball and whistle--and pick up a book. Or go for the dramatic entrance,such as firefighters arriving in a fire truck and rushing in to drop everything and read!
I thought the whole point of D.E.A.R. was to give people some quiet time, alone, with a book, not to occasion flamboyant displays of emergency workers leaving their tasks for a little show-and-tell. Tell it to the marines.
Ramona, as usual, has the right idea: "Ramona decided that she preferred Sustained Silent Reading to DEAR because it sounded more grown-up. When time came for everyone to Drop Everything and Read, she sat quietly doing her Sustained Silent Reading." You go, girl. And you too, Mrs. Cleary.