This year, my school had a couple family reading nights. It was wildly successful amongst our 3rd and 4th grade . . . but my building is 3rd- 6th. I felt disappointed that our 5th and 6th graders were so turned off by our game-filled-song-singing-run-around-playing reading night! So this spring, I wanted to place a strong focus on engaging our older students. I met with them and said “alright, what would you want to see at a family reading night?” Their reply? “I just want to be with my friends.”
From there, I knew what I needed to do . . . plan a READ-A-THON! A Read-A-Thon is a fairly simple concept. Students get pledges for how many pages they can read in a set amount of time. Then on the actual day of the Read-A-Thon, students bring in something comfortable to sit on – a bean bag chair, a blanket, a lawn chair, whatever! After school, they bring their seating item into a large space (I used our gymnasium), find their friends, make their space comfy, sit down and READ! The goal is to read as many pages as you can to raise as much money as you can. All proceeds from our Read-A-Thon went to our summer reading program – but you could use them for whatever you like! Books for the library, future family reading nights, etc.
I had students read for twenty minute intervals. We had 15 minute breaks in-between each interval, so the schedule went something like this.
3:00-3:30 Students come in from dismissal. Find their friends, make a comfy spot. READ
3:30-3:45 Pizza break, raffle off prizes
3:45 – 4:05 READ
4:05 – 4:20 Break for bathrooms, raffle off prizes
4:45-5:00 Take a group photo, clean up spots, line up for pick up.
I asked local businesses and organizations to donate prizes for the Read-A-Thon, which turned out to be the best decision I’ve made all year. I had autographs from local sports teams, movie tickets, theme park tickets, books, posters, and the list goes on! My goal was to have enough prizes so that everyone walked away with something – and I reached that goal! We had over 120 students sign up for the Read-A-Thon – each and every child walked away with something.
Now that the Read-A-Thon is over, the children have to go and collect their pledges. I view this as an added bonus. Kids from ALL grade levels were there – they were really reading – they were really having fun – they left with smiles on their faces. Any money that comes in is great, but my true goals were already met. (We did already receive over $900 in pledges though – woo!)
I hope this inspires you to use the concept of a Read-A-Thon, for your readers. Below I will post a link to the pledge form I used (just click the pictures) - unfortunately, it is not editable, but you can at least use them as a template.