Resurrecting Drop Everything And Read

The Headlines

This year, I partnered with the English Department Chair at my school, Kevin Finn, to launch a schoolwide reading initiative.

Kevin and I noticed headlines everywhere we looked:

The Data

These headlines prompted us to delve deep into the data. We began to discover that both national and statewide data were confirming the alarming headlines. The latest studies from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revealed a 4-point decline in reading scores for 13-year-olds.

The Tennessee data was also concerning as, according to Chalkbeat Tennessee, “44,000 students, or 60% of third graders statewide, did not demonstrate proficiency on the initial TCAP English language arts test.” This data was significant for our school, Webb, as the school admits students from 27 cities and towns in Tennessee. Kevin analyzed Webb’s reading data from the ACT, PSAT, and SATs. At this point, we decided to present a reading initiative to the faculty during pre-service meetings.

Collaboration and Participation

The faculty was enthusiastic and enjoyed the presentation, followed by a “book tasting” activity. The only thing left was to roll out the initiative to the students. Kevin helped students understand the importance of reading in an all-school assembly and addressed the question, “So what?” Here are some of the top benefits he discussed:

  • Increased sleep quality (and maybe quantity).
  • 30 minutes of reading equals 30 minutes of yoga.
  • Readers live nearly two years longer!

I then explained the concept behind the second law of library science, “Every Reader Their Book,” and invited students to come to the library to pick out a book to “read for fun!”


Reading by the Foot

With this, the “Reading by the Foot” initiative was launched. Starting on Tuesday, September 19th (roughly two advisory sessions per month after that), students would have the opportunity to read during advisory. Our advisory program consists of mixed-grade groups of 10-15 students supported by a faculty or staff advisor for two weekly sessions. A few parameters were in place: students must read a print book or dedicated e-reader, it should be something they WANT to read, not something they are supposed to read, and EVERYONE should read for the entire session.

Measuring our SuccessReading Initiative

Before the big launch, we had several days of advisory teams and even the entire middle school stopping in the library to check out books. This is a work in progress. Aside from using circulation data, we would like to create some measures for documenting our reading activities. I attended sessions at AASL in Tampa to see how other school librarians track reading challenges. Some conference workshops included using free software like Google’s Looker Studio and purchasing products like BeanStack. We have not settled on a measure, but stay tuned; I am sure we will.

By The Way – My school’s mascot is The Webb Feet!

Mascot Reading


Author: Hannah Byrd Little

I’m a dedicated Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, leveraging my background in higher education libraries to guide students through the crucial transition from school to college and beyond.

I am honored to have served as the AASL Chair for the Independent School Section in 2023 and am excited to begin my upcoming role as Director-At-Large for the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) later this year, following my previous experience as a Member Guide in the AASL Emerging Leaders program. These appointments reflect my commitment to advancing library education and professional development on a national scale.

With experience in state-level leadership through the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL), including serving as TASL President in 2012, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my role. My educational background includes certifications as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, a Bachelor of Science in Communications (Advertising & Public Relations), a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies (Education & Information Systems), and a Master’s in Library and Information Science.

Categories: Community, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.