Reading is integral to our educational system and our society. As the well-known children’s author Tomie dePaola said: “Reading is important because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything.” Reading, in any form, gives people freedom in learning for themselves. Being able to find out things for oneself is a tremendous lifelong gift that we can give students. The ability to read enhances our success in academic and work life.
Reading can improve knowledge by more than just reading about facts and figures. The very act of reading improves communication skills and vocabulary. Reading involves several parts of the brain and gives your mind some fantastic exercise! It also requires your constant attention, the ability to focus and block out distractions, and improves your concentration. Focus is definitely a “use it or lose it” skill and is important to maintain in this day and age of fast-paced surface information from the internet and electronic devices. Each generation seems at a greater risk of losing their attention span; reading will lessen this effect of technology and modern life.
Reading improves our critical thinking skills and abilities to relate to one another. Thinking about what we read encourages greater critical thinking and can lead to changing our own perceptions and goals. Many people admit to being changed for the better by an influential book. By putting ourselves in the place of characters in books, we learn about other points of view and thought processes. This encourages empathy. It can also lead to motivation. We want to emulate our heroes and persevere!
Reading together as a family can be a bonding experience and foster a love for books. Families that read together create opportunities to have thought-provoking conversations about subjects outside their normal experience. Stories teach life lessons and foster creativity. Reading gives families a positive, fun activity to engage in together, from youngest to oldest. It is a great way to slow down and relax after a busy day. Being read to increases listening and language skills. Good family literacy is important for success.
Reading can be good for you physically. A University of Sussex study in 2009 found that reading can lower stress levels by as much as 68%. Reading can lessen symptoms of depression, reduce heart rates and lower blood pressure in as little as six minutes per day! Several studies show reading can improve cardiovascular and mental health. Scans show reading activates different parts of the brain and helps improve mental acuity. Engaging in reading can slow memory loss and decline in cognitive function as we age.
Reading is entertaining and free with a library card. With ebook and device lending programs, reading is more accessible than ever.
What is a Read-A-Thon?
A Read-A-Thon is a school fundraiser in which students raise money from sponsors by reading books. Students or entire classes get pledges from the community and track their reading in order to earn money for your organization. Read-A-Thons are inclusive in that all ages and reading levels can take part. You can easily make accommodations for non-readers to listen to books on audio. Read-A-Fun’s Reading-Raiser software makes organizing a Read-A-Thon simple for just one or two people.
Schools constantly face budget cuts and must look for robust, effective fundraisers. Read-A-Thons are easy to organize and implement according to YOUR needs and will take the stress out of fundraising. Read-A-Fun gives you 80% of funds raised, directly deposited into your account! Your organization will have access to research-based tools to help you increase participation and donation rates.
The Benefits of a Read-A-Thon
Educators and families alike have a positive view of Read-A-Thons, as they promote literacy and require minimal time commitment. Reading is something students are already doing. You might as well use it to raise money! Read-A-Thons encourage students to read both inside and outside of the classroom. They do not distract them from learning like product sales; in fact, they encourage kids to read more!
Here are more reasons to organize a Read-A-Thon for your school:
- When paired with a reward system and gamified to make it fun, Read-A-Thons are engaging and motivating, encouraging kids to read. Kids enjoy working for rewards that are meaningful to them. Gamification structures the activity in a format that students are familiar and comfortable with. Research has shown gamification to be effective in changing learning behaviors.
- A Read-A-Thon encourages reading inside and outside of school, thus keeping the focus on learning, not fundraising. Too many fundraisers are about selling, which is not only not possible for many students. Many parents feel selling candy has nothing to do with their child’s actual education. Families will appreciate not having to sell, deliver, or pick up anything. Students get to track their reading in the program and enjoy immediate feedback and rewards.
- A class can choose to have students take part individually or as a team, encouraging cooperation and teamwork. By making fundraising about participation rather than sales, a Read-A-Thon ensures success for all students. Organizers have the option to reward individual progress and group progress. No student will feel inadequate because they can’t sell enough chocolate bars, or run as many laps.
- Read-A-Fun’s Reading-Raiser software makes it easy to organize a school-wide fundraiser by just a couple of people rather than the large amounts of volunteers required to put on, say, a jog-a-thon. The time and effort you put into a fundraiser should show results, not exhaust you just setting it up. With a little planning, your Read-A-Thon will go smoothly and accomplish your goals.
- There are terrific opportunities for community involvement with a Read-A-Thon. For example, you could sponsor a book drive at the same time. People can donate new and lightly used books even if they cannot monetarily contribute to the fundraiser. You can sell the books to benefit the school library or some other organization. You can also use them for the students in a book exchange. Members of the community can even participate, perhaps have a well-known local read with the students.
- A Read-A-Thon is more equitable; it does not require the family to spend any money, unlike school book fairs, which really show economic disparity. With the school or library supplying the books, every student can take part. A Read-A-Thon does not have to be about the number of books read, it can be about time spent reading. This opens up successful participation for more students who may not read as many books.
- A Read-A-Thon promotes library use. Whether from their school library or the public library, students are encouraged to check out more free books! This encourages them to get to know their library and the librarian. So many opportunities exist in public libraries, it is good to have an activity that promotes their use. A library card opens up learning opportunities, arts and crafts, music, computers, science activities, seed sharing, instrument rental, museum attendance and more.
Read-A-Thons are an excellent opportunity to work with families at home. By including families, you are encouraging literacy in the home and fostering a love of reading. With family involvement comes family investment; they will have more interest in the outcome of their student’s efforts if they are helping them read at home.
Planning a Read-A-Thon
Having a Read-A-Thon doesn’t have to be stressful. With good planning, your fundraiser will go smoothly and accomplish your goals. You need to consider a few things before you start:
- What are your financial goals for this Read-A-Thon? Be more specific than “we need funding for the art program.” List what materials you are going to buy with the funds. This makes fundraising more realistic to donors and gives them a goal to envision. Helping buy extra supplies for the Kindergarten program is more tangible than raising $5,000.
- When do you need to have the Read-A-Thon? Do you need to have funds right away or can you have an ongoing fundraising effort throughout the year? Do you want to have your fundraiser in the Fall or in the Spring? What other fundraisers are going on?
- Consider when you need to have the funds and how long you expect your fundraiser to last. One month? A semester? The entire year? Remember to include planning and evaluation of your efforts in the timeframe. You also want to keep good records for your organization.
- What resources do you have to commit? Do you have a large group of people willing to commit to the project or just a small cadre of die-hard participants? How many volunteer hours can you come up with? How many do you need?
- How will you be promoting your event? Do you want to reach out to community businesses and alumni? Will you share the event with the local media? Will students be promoting it via social media?
- Who is in charge of the Read-A-Thon and who will assist? This will help prevent duplication of effort.
Using reading to fundraise is a win-win situation for everyone!
ReadaFun has been running successful online Read-A-Thons since 2012.
We are dedicated to making Read-A-Thon a successful and enjoyable experience for both schools and students. Our user-friendly platform provides the tools and resources needed to streamline the fundraising process, track reading progress, and facilitate secure online donations. With ReadaFun, PTO and PTA leaders can confidently organize a profitable Read-A-Thon that inspires students, empowers literacy, and leaves their community feeling proud and fulfilled. If you are interested in running a successful Read-A-Thon this year, feel free to contact us today! We would be more than happy to guide you through the process.