Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help. Several times a month, we’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write.
When I was in elementary school we learned to Drop Everything and Read. I don’t know exactly how the DEAR program came into being, but I do know this was something that Ramona Quimby did in her third-grade class as well, though she preferred the more adult term, Sustained Silent Reading. Ramona, a character of Beverly Cleary’s, learned about DEAR in the book Ramona Quimby, Age 8.
I have always loved to read, maybe because of Ramona and DEAR, maybe it’s just who I am. From the day I could read chapter books I would pile them up in my room, then work my way through, page by page. I remember hours, whole days in my room, reading. Sitting on pillows, lying on the floor, head hanging off the bed, feet in the air; it was like some kind of literary kid yoga. What about reading did I love? The solitude? The escape into another world? The beauty of words?
We know that kids need to read. Reading improves vocabulary and spelling, and helps children’s brains develop more neural pathways. Not to mention the close time spent with a parent or caregiver builds bonds and creates a sense of love and safety for a child (and parent too). But the importance of reading doesn’t really ever end.
I have heard from many writers, lectures, conferences, if you want to be a good writer, read. In an MFA program, reading is half the work! We study the form, the structure, the style, the voice. We read to learn, yes, and we also read to feel. In stories and essays and poetry we discover what moves us, what scares us, what makes us angry. By reading, we learn how to put sentences together that capture these feelings too.
Ramona loved to read, I love to read. I imagine if you are reading this, you probably love to read too. For our kids, for ourselves, for good writing- let’s all keep at it.
In your journal today, write about why you read. Then Drop Everything And Read; sit back and enjoy some Sustained Silent Reading time.
Do YOU have a writing prompt to share with Literary Mama readers? Send your 150- to 300-word narrative and associated writing prompt to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com. We’d love to read your ideas!