Staff and students at Williamstown Elementary School dropped everything to read on Friday morning. See more photos here.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The library at Williamstown Elementary School was buzzing on Friday morning.
Fifth- and sixth-grade students and their kindergarten "reading buddies" took over the room as the school held its first-ever "Drop Everything and Read" event.
The schoolwide exercise in reading for pleasure was held to kick off a drive that will culminate later this month, when the school joins a nationwide effort called "Read the Most Coast to Coast."
On Feb. 28, elementary pupils nationwide will attempt to break the record for Accelerated Reader Quizzes taken in one day. Last year, 4.4 million quizzes were taken on a single day. This year, organizers are aiming for 5 million.
"We did this to kick it off and get everybody aware," said school librarian Susan Lynch, who organized the event along with technology coordinator Tom Welch.
"Even though we've talked about it a lot — in every library class we talk about it and in classrooms we talk about it — this is a way to unite the school."
At 9:15 Friday, every child and faculty member dropped what he or she was doing and picked up a book. In the library, the fifth- and sixth-graders read aloud with the kindergarteners while a second grade class used its regular weekly library time to read quietly.
Whole classes migrated to the hallways or read in the classroom, depending on their preference. The foyer outside the main office was taken over by children from the school's preschool program, who read with teachers and paraprofessionals.
Even Principal Joelle Brookner got into the act, finding a seat on the floor of the library and reading alongside the pupils.
The school's pupils are going to have to do a lot of reading if they want to hold their end up on Feb. 28.
Accelerated Reading Tests are the product of Renaissance Learning, which created a platform that lets children test their comprehension of books they've read and allows teachers to track pupils' progress.
The web-based program offers 160,000 quizzes in fiction and nonfiction, according to a Renaissance Learning news release.
Although it may seem routine for children to read in school, the Drop Everything event puts the emphasis on the books kids read outside the curriculum.
"When they take the Accelerated Reading quizzes, they're supposed to be on their independent reading," Lynch said. "This is more to encourage independent reading, rather than in-school reading."