Read Your Heart Out Day

A Holiday of Our Own Making

Let's face it, celebrating Valentine’s Day in elementary school is a little silly.

So we developed our on holiday. On the second Friday in February 500 kids and teachers now participate in a school-wide celebration of reading.

Developed in our classroom, the second Friday in February is now dedicated to a school wide celebration of reading.

I created the video to model how we can look to our collective experiences as inspiration for writing. Finding the language to reflect back to students the importance of how they felt about themselves on that day required us all to take a risk.

On the eve of Read Your Heart Out Day...

...it’s become tradition for students to check the class website right before bed for a sneak peek at the schedule crafted specifically for that year's class.

2015: Students hold our NASA themed class read-a-thon flag after being particularly jazzed over the story of the Mars Curiosity Rover.
2017: When it came time to settle on a team name for this year's read-a-thon, the kids suggested "Lil' Lewis Library" after the name they gave to their class group-text: "Little Lewis's" which was the first time I learned out community seeped into their personal space. Cool.

Read Your Heart Out Day: Building Anticipation All Year Long

Their enthusiasm inspired me to keep the traditions evolving. From comfy attire (left) to mentoring younger students (below).

2009: The community outside of our classroom first took an interest in adopting our holiday after seeing this picture. Seeing so many boys get into the spirit of identifying themselves as readers was uncommon at the time.
2014: Partnering with a classroom of 3rd grade students established our class as reader leaders ensuring that younger kids internalized the message: nobody's too cool for reading, especially when it comes to cool picture books.

Special Guests and Surprise visitors...

(left) Alison Morris of First Book, a non-profit organization devoted to getting high-quality literature into disadvantaged schools, discusses the importance of books as windows into the lives of others and mirrors into our own thinking.
(below) Jonathan Auxier reads an unreleased excerpt from his upcoming novel The Night Gardener.

We're not above some book themed shenanigans...

With the help of a few of my Minecraft aficionados, we turned Ms. Kelliher's desk into a giant brick using a total of 2,000 books transported from our classroom library!

A Lasting Impact...

When I arrived to school on the morning of December 21, 2017, I was greeted by a note on the front board. Two students from my 2015 class came to visit the prior afternoon but I had already left. So they took it upon themselves to dig their class flag out of the closet and hang it back up. My current class was understandably curious so I played them the 2015 video. A little mythology builds a lot of anticipation.