Mr. Ball visits Mr. Whyte’s Pre-calculus class. Photo: Matt Ball

Juggling hours of homework, extracurricular activities, time for friends and family, and most importantly, sleep, many students dismiss the idea of reading for fun. But Director of Libraries Matt Ball has started a new initiative to promote reading as a pastime called Drop Everything and Read (DEAR).

“Besides being fun, there are many excellent benefits that we can get from reading,” said Mr. Ball. “It can reduce our stress levels and make us more relaxed. It increases our knowledge, expands our vocabulary, and improves memory, as well as focus and concentration. And maybe most importantly, reading broadens our horizons and makes us more empathetic towards other people.”

Mr. Ball recognizes that many high school students are busy and that it’s difficult to find the time to read. His solution is to ask permission to take over a teacher’s class and give students time to read that they would not have otherwise had.

Mr. Ball has already worked with teachers in all upper school departments to bring a cart full of books (and doughnuts) into their classrooms for students to enjoy. “Students can select a book from the cart, or grab one they’re already reading, and then we just drop everything and read for the remainder of the period,” said Mr. Ball.

“It gave a breath to the normal academic day,” said Math Chairperson Gus Whyte. “Mr. Ball came 15 minutes into class, and for the next half hour everyone read quietly, including me. I would do it again for my other classes.” After the class, a few students even checked out a book to continue reading at home. “I was reading “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls and checked it out,” said junior Emma Shelton. “I don’t usually read for fun because school is pretty stressful, but now I’m going to doing it more.”

Adding time to read to an already busy schedule may seem more stressful. But by jumping into the universe of a new book, it actually allows people to escape the stress they may normally feel. Also, it may even help improve academic performance. “Reading makes us better communicators, especially in writing,” said Mr. Ball. “It shows us people, places and circumstances that we might not otherwise encounter, and allows us to see the world from someone else’s perspective, possibly a perspective that we might not otherwise have even considered.”