Drop Everything and Read: The Story of My Life!


Drop Everything and Read. I first heard the term years ago when my son was in first grade. But it’s something I’ve done all my life.


Recently I had the pleasure of rereading a story I wrote when I was 9. It had somehow made its way into my aunt and uncle’s basement almost a half-century ago, and was unearthed last month. What was so interesting about the story (called “The Orphans”) is that you can immediately tell what I had been reading as a 9-year-old. The plucky orphans, whose parents had mysteriously disappeared, lived in an old house next to a very rich family with two extremely spoiled children.


Me when I was 9

Immediately, my present-day mind flew back to such classics as The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, and the Fairy Books of different colors, and Little Women (one of the orphans is a tomboy named Louisa who is always called Lou). And there was my 9-year-old self, curled up on a sofa or in bed or on the glider on my grandparents’ screen porch, reading, always reading. Reading in the bathtub. Reading in the shower (which caused some problems when the books got soaked through). Reading as I walked along the sidewalk.


Today I still can’t wait to drop everything and read. It’s partly why I started a book blog back in 2012. The sight of review copies arriving at my doorstep never ceases to thrill me. In fact, one of my favorite places in the various newsrooms where I worked was the free book table, where review copies of all kinds beckoned me closer. Deadlines? Ah, but there’s a new mystery novel by an author I love. And there’s a fascinating political history book.


During the pandemic, reading has become, if possible, even more important to me. I can escape into family dramas, or fraught memoirs, or (a favorite of late) mysteries set in the World War I era. So I am a big fan of dropping everything and reading. For everyone. Whenever possible. Both in and out of the classroom.


--Deborah Kalb


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