February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

National Readathon Day 2016: Ice Cream, Grab Bags, and, of Course, Books

Readathon pieceWhile reading may often seem like a solitary activity, the second annual National Readathon Day is exactly the opposite: a chance to share the love of books and reading with thousands of fellow readers across the country.

Set for Saturday, May 21, the nationwide event is co-hosted this year by the American Library Association (ALA) and publisher Penguin Random House. Authors, including crime novelist Lisa Gardner, Newbery Award winner Jack Gantos, and Sweetbitter (Penguin Random, 2016) author Stephanie Danler are set to participate, along with other writers who plan to read from their own books—or personal favorites— through live video feeds.

Libraries, schools, and bookstores are encouraged to participate, too. Related ideas include throwing your own Reading Party, or attending one at a local library in your state: Derby (KS) Public Library and Knox County (TN) Public Library are hoping you’ll join them.

Certainly librarians and educators believe every day should be a reading day. But the idea behind National Readathon Day is to celebrate the delight that comes from falling into a story or tale and getting transported to another place or time.

Those who love to read already treasure their ability to pore over a printed—or virtual—page. National Readathon Day is meant to hopefully hook others on the “transformational power of reading,” said Sari Feldman, ALA president, in a release.

What should patrons expect for 2016’s event? Think book swaps, potlucks, and grab bags, said Melanie Fallon-Houska, director for Corporate Giving with Penguin Random House, by email. Ice Cream socials are on the menu at all 27 branches of the Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library, along with storytimes and live Facebook updates throughout the day, she added.

People spent more than 140,000 minutes reading books across 200 locations for the first National Readathon Day in 2015, raising more than $100,000 in pledges for the National Book Foundation’s educational programs.

This year, proceeds donated online and collected from the events are set to promote ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, an early literacy program meant to spark the love of learning in preschool children.

Those who can’t find or get to a local event in their area can still participate online, tracking the day’s activities and updates on social media through #Readathon 2016. The hope is that readers will spend some time that day immersed in a book—and sharing that joy of reading with others.

“Not only does Readathon Day present an opportunity to generate excitement amongst readers of all ages, but it also enables children and students to get involved in an effort that supports youth literacy,” Feldman said.

Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.



  1. Ashleeann says:

    I was so excited about national readathon day! I teach library and wanted to do something with my students, so with the help of the student council, we are taking on a whole school initiative to have students read for forty
    minutes with their class. They will find sponsors and the proceeds will go to Project Night Night.