School holds read-in for all students to kick off initiative to encourage independent reading


Erica Lee

In support of the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Banned Book Week, students brought their own book and read for an entire period. The yoga class (featured above) reads outside on the track during the read-in period.

HTML tutorial

Townsend Harris High School hosted its first school-wide read-in of the 2022-2023 academic year as part of a growing campaign to encourage independent reading for students. During an extended third band last Wednesday, teachers and students alike stopped all work to read a book of their choice. The read-in was held in support of Freedom to Read Foundation’s Banned Book Week to denounce censorship and kicked off THHS’s Reading Initiative, launched in hopes of building a reading culture amidst concerns from educators and politicians that the pandemic has significantly impacted literacy

In an email sent to the community, Librarian Arlene Laverde shared a special schedule for last Wednesday, allotting a roughly 40-minute extension to third band intended to be dedicated entirely to reading. Many students brought printed books to peruse, while others chose to read digitally. Some teachers also supported the event by providing a variety of books to choose from in their classrooms. 

Many students enjoyed the read-in and said it was a great opportunity to take a break from the previous two weeks of rigorous academics. Sophomore Zofeya Dookie said, “I think it was a good time to focus and be in silence for a bit after the business of the first two weeks. I enjoy reading, so it was fun for me.” 

Math teacher Jamie Posner agreed that the event was a good way to accommodate reading into the hectic hodgepodge of school year activities. She said, “It’s a very interesting concept and I think it’s really nice to just give the students and teachers the opportunity to read anything of their choice. This year I read a bit of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” 

Although the read-in proved rejuvenating to many, freshman Kaitlyn Pao wished that it would have been held at a later time in the day. She said, “I like having time for something other than school. It’s…like a mental break. I would prefer it later in the day though because you don’t really need a mental break after two periods.” 

In the letter sent by Ms. Laverde, she reported that Principal Brian Condon has made it a priority for this school year to strengthen the importance of reading and literature through the Townsend Harris Reading Initiative project. 

Speaking to The Classic, Ms. Laverde said, “We have so many things planned around reading. On October 14, we have an overnight read-a-thon planned. Some events that we have ‘brewing’ are a battle of the books game show event…The Reading Initiative is designed to be a fun, friendly grade competition to remind THHS students that there is joy and community around reading.”